Harvard’s NCAA Tournament Run Was Fun While It Lasted

The Harvard Crimson's brush with college basketball greatness was magical—even if short-lived.

The Harvard men’s basketball team’s short, magical run ended with a blowout loss to sixth-seeded Arizona on Saturday night, but not before it became the NCAA tournament’s version of a hit novelty record. The Crimson’s brief brush with greatness didn’t have a long shelf life, but it was funny, catchy, and inspired.

By Friday morning, hours after the 14 seed toppled third-seeded New Mexico, even the university’s nattily attired band was famous. (The blazers they wore were either borrowed from students at Hogwarts or stolen from the back of a Ryder Cup captain’s closet.) First, Deadspin’s Emma Carmichael splashed this amazing group photo across the site’s front page. That inspired Grantland’s Jay Caspian Kang to offer up his own tribute, in which he wrote imaginary bios for each of the band members. For example:

Sean Flaherty, saxophone: A freshman Celtic studies major from Hingham, Massachusetts, Sean despises anyone who goes by “Shaun” or “Shawn” and does not find it tacky or even rude to berate anyone who doesn’t spell it S-E-A-N. He is the president of Harvard’s Bloomsday Society and can be seen in South Boston on St. Patrick’s Day, shaking his head with great disgust at all the foreigners who “just don’t get the point.”

Read the whole thing. It’s comedic gold. But make no mistake: Harvard was far from a joke. Led by Wesley Saunders (18 points) and Laurent Rivard (17 points), the Crimson took down a New Mexico squad that seemed destined for at least the tourney’s second weekend. Sure, Harvard’s hot streak didn’t last. Around the time Solomon Hill of Arizona threw down a monster dunk on Saturday night, I figured luck had run out completely. Still, if coach Tommy Amaker hangs around, there’s little doubt that Harvard will be an NCAA tournament fixture for years to come.

But if you’re still feeling down about Saturday’s loss, I’d recommend watching this NECN story. It’s not a parody, but it feels like one, right down to the skinny Harvard fan in a lumberjack-print shirt who says, “I wish that they had figured out the numbers a little better here to score more points. Aside from that, strong year, good guys.”