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March 22, 2013

Harvard Fails Bracketology, Cal and Oregon Upsets, and Southern Almost Makes History

Turns out smart kids can play ball. Harvard has produced presidents, politicians, and Nobel-prize winning thinkers; now it can tuck its first NCAA tournament win under its belt as well.

By Cindy Ferguson

The 14th-seeded Harvard Crimson (20-9) pulled off an upset 68-62 win over the 3rd-seeded New Mexico Lobos. The match was the biggest upset in the first games in the field of 64 (officially known as the second round for NCAA officials).

Harvard alumnus Jeremy Lin’s response?.. “YYYYYEEEEESSSSSSSSS!!!”

To call the win an upset is perhaps an understatement. According to ESPN, less than 6% of the brackets filled out for the Tournament Challenge marked Harvard for advancement. Even President Obama, himself an alumnus of the prestigious institution, saw the Lobos making it to the Final Four.

“This is the No. 1 moment in my career”, said Harvard senior Christian Webster.

Thursday night’s game is Harvard’s first tournament win, and only its third entry in the contest at all: its second entry was last year, a 79-70 loss against Vanderbilt; and its first was all the way back in 1946.

“This is the No. 1 moment in my career”, said Harvard senior Christian Webster. “The thought came to mind that this could be the game. We showed a lot of toughness, just persevering”.

Harvard did come together, shooting at 52% while holding New Mexico to only 37%. Wesley Saunders scored 18 points, Laurent Rivard made 17, including five 3-pointers. Harvard coach Tommy Amaker called Rivard the best 3-point shooter in Boston.

“I hit my first one, and you know, you hit the shot and then you keep shooting after that, and then I hit another one, so I knew it was going to be a good game after that”, said Rivard.

Webster also added 11 points, including three 3-pointers himself.

“We battled a really good basketball team in a tough environment”, Amaker said. “I’m very proud of our guys”.

Harvard wasn’t the only team to ignore bracketology. No. 12 Oregon beat No. 5 Oklahoma State 68-55. Reviewing the Ducks’ play before the game, Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford admitted before the game that the Ducks didn’t play their seed.

“We ran into a very hot team, a very hot team”, Ford said. “I’ve watched a lot of games on these guys and how they’ve played the last three games compared to how they were playing two or three weeks ago; this was a hot basketball team. I was impressed with Oregon, really impressed and they came in here playing extremely well”.

No. 12 Cal also managed to upset No. 5 UNLV in a 64-61 game, with Allen Crabbe adding 19 points and 9 rebounds and Robert Thurman making 12 in dunks. The Golden Bears managed to keep the Runnin’ Rebels scoreless for over 11 minutes in the second half.

“We took them out of their rhythm”, said Crabbe of UNLV.

None of these surprise victories even come close to what was almost the biggest shocker of the day: a No. 16 seed displacing a No. 1 seed. It has never happened in NCAA history, but Southern came close in a 64-58 loss against Gonzaga. The Bulldogs only managed to pull ahead in the last four minutes of the game, after the teams were head-to-head in a 56-56 tie.

The Southern University Jaguars played a close game throughout, but a few bad possessions gave the Bulldogs room for a 3-pointer and a couple of free throws to seal the game.

“Everyone was so moved by their effort, their resilience, their confidence,” said Gonzaga coach Mark Few. “If I wasn’t coaching on the other sideline, they’d be a tough team not to root for”.

About the Author

Cindy Ferguson is a high-ranking sports writer, currently writing reviews on NHL Hockey for the sports betting industry. Feel free to reprint this article in its entirety on your site, make sure to leave all links in place and do not modify any of the content.