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While the buzz of “Linsanity” has died down considerably in the past weeks, there is still reason to talk about Harvard basketball.
The Crimson men’s basketball team is going to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1946 after winning the first outright Ivy League championship in school history. The tournament appearance comes just one season after Harvard fell one heartbreaking game short of making the “Big Dance.”
Last year, after splitting the regular season Ivy League title with Princeton, the Crimson were forced into a one-game playoff to determine the league’s automatic NCAA tournament bid. Princeton’s Douglas Davis dashed Harvard’s tournament hopes with a buzzer-beater to give the Tigers a 63-62 win.
But this year was a different story.
After starting the season 8-0, including a win over ACC tournament champion Florida State, the Crimson made school history with the program’s first national ranking.
Harvard’s recent success has come at the hands of head coach Tommy Amaker. A former Duke standout point guard, Amaker began his coaching career with the Blue Devils under his former coach, legend Mike Krzyzewski.
Amaker landed in Cambridge in 2007 after head coaching stints with Seton Hall and Michigan and Harvard’s win total has increased each year under him. This includes a school-record 26 wins this season, breaking the previous mark set in the 2010-11 season (23), which stood for just one season itself.
A lot has changed since Harvard was last in the NCAA tournament. The field consisted of only eight teams, Harry Truman was in office, and gas cost 21 cents per gallon.
On Thursday the 12th-seeded Crimson will face what some call the “Harvard of the South,” SEC tournament champion Vanderbilt.