Oh well, it’s been a very long time since I last blogged, and as far as I’m concerned, this is my first post this year of any topic.

For the main topic, here it goes: Last Saturday, March 9 (Eastern time), Harvard claimed its first back-to-back NCAA Tournament bid, and only its third ever (three consecutive Ivy League crowns in all, but the first one was only a share with Princeton, and Harvard lost the one-game playoff that year which caused them to end up in the NIT). But they have never celebrated an earned bid on the court thus far, for they needed a P school (last year, it was Penn three days after Harvard’s last game; this year it was Princeton 45 minutes after Harvard’s last game) to lose in order for Harvard to get its bid. It was well-deserving indeed for the Crimson to get another NCAA bid, because how they got there despite losing two key factors from last season is worth telling.

If you are not familiar with last season’s story, the Crimson were undefeated up to game 9 against UConn (it was still eligible for the postseason back then), were ranked for a time because of our quality wins in the first Battle 4 Atlantis, and nearly swept the Ivy League (a meltdown against Penn at home nearly derailed our Dance hopes); however, four of the five starting players from that season are not in this season’s edition: two graduated in 2012, and the other two were implicated in a cheating scandal that rocked Harvard over the summer; as a result, both withdrew to preserve their final year of eligibility for next year (Ivy League does not allow redshirting other than for medical reasons.) Despite these problems, the Crimson overcame many odds to get the elusive Dance bid.

Season Part 1: Transition Pains

We opened the season with MIT once again (as for MIT this year, they were unable to repeat their performance from last year because they lost in the first round in the Division III tournament), but the margin wasn’t as high as the year before’s.

Enter UMass. The Crimson’s Massachusetts schools streak was on the line as well. The Minutemen dominated the Crimson for the first part of the first half, and while the Crimson dominated much of the second half, they finally melted down in the final minutes of the second half, a pattern which was unfortunately repeated time and again throughout the season.

After an unremarkable Manhattan game, we were dominated by Saint Joe’s which went inconsistent in the games after Harvard’s. Then fouling and poor rebounding doomed the Crimson against Vermont. Holes were exposed in the Crimson’s defense and depth early on in these losses which were somewhat patched later in the season. Despite these, Siyani Chambers blossomed as Brandyn Curry’s replacement, and was even on national award radars for a while.

Then came Fordham and Boston College, both expected wins for the Crimson. UConn, this time ineligible for the postseason due to APR, really exposed Harvard’s weak depth.

Had not for Siyani Chambers’ game-winner, Boston U could’ve been another example of a second-half meltdown game. Off to the finals we go…

Season Part 2: Cross-Country Mix-ups and the Tournament Begins

After the finals were over, the Crimson won against Holy Cross at home. And off to the Bay Area they go…

Against Cal, the Crimson were lucky to have exited Haas Pavilion with a W, despite the Bears dominating statistically against the Crimson.

Uh oh. Here comes St. Mary’s. The Crimson melted down in the final minutes of what should’ve been a win for them.

The New Year comes, and Rice visits Lavietes, and we won an expected win.

The 14 Game “tournament” begins after Rice, with the Crimson visiting Dartmouth. Second-half meltdowns were about to become a thing of the past, but not yet…

For their final non-conference game against Memphis, the Tigers dominated the Crimson for most of the game. Harvard briefly had their moments in the second half, but Memphis came back and won.

Season Part 3: The Tournament Settles Down

After the non-conference slate was done, much of the first half of Harvard’s Ivy slate ended up in close games and overtimes. Second-half meltdowns were still there, albeit only undoing themselves in the final minutes, when the opposing teams’ holes were exposed as well…

But the road to a sweep came to a halt against Columbia, which was inconsistent in the games before and after Harvard.

At home, the P’s were handled and dominated. But the P’s on the road, it was a different story. The losing streak for Harvard at Jadwin may turn 25 next season, but I hope it will end next year… but the crushing loss at Penn may have ended Harvard’s dreams of going to a second consecutive Dance. But not yet…

Harvard had its final regular-season games at home, and Princeton’s were on the road. Columbia had a second-half meltdown of its own that put Harvard one game closer to a bid and Princeton was unable to close Yale out on the road a few minutes after Harvard won… the next day, Harvard got the bid by beating short-handed Cornell as Princeton was completely dominated by Brown on the road.

Then what could’ve been unexpected a week ago really happened. Princeton was knocked out of the Dance by its own undoings, and Harvard rolled against Columbia in the second half, and held on to a lead against Cornell throughout the second half, and through these wins, Harvard finally got the Ivy bid that most media had predicted throughout the season.

With this, Harvard punched the second-ever Dance ticket for this season; Florida Gulf Coast (the first-ever autobid for this season, BTW) and Belmont were the other conference tournament champions that punched their Dance tickets on the same day as Harvard.

What’s next for the Crimson: Maybe the futility streak for Harvard in the postseason (NCAA, NIT and CIT combined) may end this year. Or maybe not…