STILLWATER – The things we think we know about Harvard kids — they're smart, some even brilliant — are true, regardless of your take on the “The Social Network.”
What you maybe didn't know about the Harvard basketball team is they were this close to making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1946, except for a buzzer-beater that swung a one-point lead into a one-point loss in a one-game playoff for the Ivy League championship.
And, even then, they maybe deserved a spot in the big bracket anyway, rather than a trip to Stillwater for an NIT opener tonight at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
The Crimson resume is solid: 23-6 record overall, 12-2 in the Ivy League; an RPI of 35; an 82-66 win over Colorado; a 78-69 win at Boston College; five of six losses to NCAA Tournament teams; the conference MVP in forward Keith Wright.
“You've heard the word Harvard a lot the last two weeks,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford, “it seems to me, every time I've turned the TV on.
“There's a lot of respect around the country. And deservingly so.”
There wasn't enough respect with the NCAA committee, however, dousing hopes for an at-large bid that hovered over watch parties for Sunday's Selection Show. Harvard coach Tommy Amaker, who played at Duke and has coached at basketball schools like Michigan and Seton Hall, said his players were “heartbroken and devastated.”
Still, this NIT bid — Harvard's first — represents opportunity for the Crimson, much as it does for OSU. Harvard is a young team that will return every player on its roster for 2011-12.
“We're really excited,” junior co-captain Oliver McNally told the school's newspaper. “It's going to be a fun experience for us... the NIT is a big deal; we're going to try to win some games and extend our season.”