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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Harvard defeats Penn

The Harvard Crimson men’s basketball team defeated the Penn Quakers 69–65 on Feb. 22 at a sold-out Lavietes Pavilion, which is the smallest gym in the league, holding 1,636 fans. This was the 12th consecutive win at home for Harvard; they have not lost at home since Feb. 9, 2019. In the Ivy League, Harvard is now 73. They control their own destiny to win an Ivy League Regular Season title. Harvard has finished in first place in seven out of the past nine seasons. Regardless of where they finish in the standings, this was a huge win for Harvard, because it gives them a two-game lead over fifth place Penn with four games remaining. The top four teams make the conference tournament. The Yale Bulldogs are 82, Harvard and the Princeton Tigers are both 73, the Brown Bears is 64, and Penn is 55. The Dartmouth Big Green, the Cornell Big Red, and the Columbia Lions need to win out to even have a chance of making the Ivy League Conference tournament. The Ivy League is strong this season: Alabama, Buffalo, California, Clemson, Providence, UCF, and Texas A&M all contain strong programs who have been beaten by Ivy League teams this season. 

The first-place team used to automatically qualify for the NCAA Tournament, but now teams must win the conference tournament to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. The first-place team in every league automatically qualifies for the NIT if they miss the NCAA Tournament. The top four in the league make the Conference Tournament, which will be played in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on March 14 and 15, regardless of where Harvard finishes in the standings. All eight schools get to host this tournament; this year is Harvard’s turn. Yale hosted it last year, Penn hosted it the previous two seasons. In order, the next five hosts will be Princeton, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Columbia. This tournament began in 2017. 

This game was in high demand, with a lot of Penn fans at the game. Fans were all in an extremely cramped setting, having to sit on hard benches. A star senior for Penn, AJ Brodeur, is from Northborough, Massachusetts. A lot of his friends and former teammates came to support him. Brodeur has scored 1,744 career points during his Penn career. The former Boston College coach, Steve Donahue is the head coach at Penn. He led Cornell to the Sweet 16 in 2010. Harvard has recruited across the country; only one player on the team is from Massachusetts. Tommy Amaker, who has built a winner at Harvard, is a former Duke player and assistant coach. He will be one of the candidates to replace Coach K when he retires from Duke. He led Seton Hall to the Sweet 16 in 2000. 

This was a hard-fought competitive game, with both teams desperately needing a win. Harvard is in second place now but would have been in fifth place if they lost this game. In a 14-game season, every game is meaningful. At the end of last season, there was only a three game difference between the winner of the league and the team who missed the Ivy League Tournament. Harvard has battled injuries this season but continues to find ways to win. Seth Towns won the Ivy League player of the year in 2018, but has not played all season. Bryce Aiken scored 22 points per game last season and has been out for two months. 

Harvard won this game despite only making 418 from three. Harvard grabbed 15 offensive rebounds and was able to win this game. Chris Lewis and Noah Kirkwood both scored 19 points and accounted for almost half of the Harvard offense. Only three guys scored more than five points. Harvard did their job defensively by holding AJ Brodeur to 12 points. The refs did not call many fouls. Zero players fouled out in this game. Overall, only 14 free throws were made combined between both teams. Penn coach Steve Donahue described Harvard as an aggressive team more concerned about playing hard than worrying about making mistakes. He said “They’re not a team that worries too much about execution. They play really hard, attack the rim, hope to get fouled, and if they don’t they get offensive rebounds,” according to the Daily Pennsylvanian. Harvard is doing their best to work with what they have available to them. Experience certainly is a big factor in the success of Harvard, 4 out of 5 starters are Seniors. 

Harvard certainly has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament. Northeastern, Boston College, UMass Boston, and Holy Cross certainly won’t make it. Boston University has a slim chance but is worth keeping an eye on. Providence is playing as well as any team in the country at this moment: they beat number 10 Seton Hall, Georgetown, and number 19 Marquette in their last three games. Whoever wins the Ivy League certainly has a chance to make noise in the NCAA Tournament. Overall, teams in the league have won 43 games in the Tournament. Three teams have made the final four: Dartmouth in 1944, Princeton in 1965, and Penn in 1979. However, this league has had success since then. Cornell made the Sweet 16 in 2010. Princeton arguably had the greatest upset ever, beating defending National Champion UCLA in 1996. Yale was the last team to win a Tournament game, beating Baylor in 2016. 

Harvard has had recent success, winning a tournament game in 2013 and 2014 with wins over New Mexico and Cincinnati. Harvard has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2015, but they certainly have the talent to go there. Harvard only lost by seven points to number five Maryland and beat two Power 5 teams in California and Texas A&M this season. Harvard upset Georgetown in the NIT last season. Harvard has owned the state of Massachusetts recently; they are the only team in the state to win an NCAA Tournament game in the last ten years. 

Harvard needs to build a new gym: their arena is 94 years old and the smallest in the league. It is very uncomfortable to sit on wooden benches and have tiny restrooms. They are not a high school team; they are consistently good. Out of 353 Division one teams, only nine of them have a smaller arena than Harvard. This arena used to be an indoor track facility, it’s technically the third oldest arena in college basketball but Harvard did not start playing there until 1982. Compared to the Ivy League, this arena pales in comparison. Locker rooms are cramped; they do not have a TV. Penn has a large arena, holding 8,722; Princeton holds 6,854. Those two are by far the most storied programs in the league. There was a 19-year stretch from 1989-2007 when one of them won the league every year. Other arenas in the league range from 2,100 to 4,400. Harvard charges $30 per ticket for general seating, exceeding other arenas in the league by $10-$20. It is not a pleasant experience to be cramped and hot without even being in a seat.