Harvard has punched their ticket to the Big Dance! Ivy League basketball isn’t exactly the best basketball in the country. Schools like Duke and Kentucky don’t compete in the Ivy League. But the Ivy League does get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and the representative of the Ivy League has historically been known to upset opponents in March Madness. So that certainly brought extra eyeballs to this weekend’s playoff for the right to represent the Ivy League in the Big Dance. In a contest that pitted Harvard against Yale, one of the most storied rivalries in all of college sports, Yale held the lead through the first half. But the Bulldogs could not maintain their lead and the program that Tommy Amaker has built at Harvard would go on to defeat them in a very close, 53-51 contest. Harvard will thus represent the Ivy League once again in NCAA Tourney play.
This marks Harvard’s fourth straight appearance in the Big Dance and the Crimson will first face the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a program built by the late, great Dean Smith whose alumni include Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Sam Perkins, Brad Dougherty, James Worthy, Antawn Jamison, and so many other of the great basketball players of our time. An upset for Harvard, the alma mater of Jeremy Lin, over UNC would be, in a word, awesome. Harvard’s head coach, Tommy Amaker, is a Duke University alumnus and we believe that, with his outstanding work at Harvard, he has cemented his status as the heir apparent to Coach K at Duke when the storied coach chooses to retire. A win by Amaker’s squad over Duke’s greatest rival would be huge for Amaker and the Crimson.
And while we congratulate Tommy Amaker and his Harvard squad for their victory, we sure hope he called the head coach of Dartmouth College. Because if not for Dartmouth’s last second win over Yale in their final regular season game of the season, Yale would have earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and Harvard would have been left out. While Yale had an outstanding season, the first in a long time, it was Dartmouth that provided the necessary assist to Harvard for a fourth straight trip to the Big Dance. Tommy Amaker is now in Dartmouth’s debt.
And if you haven’t read about the impact of a March Madness run on a university’s admissions statistics, you should!