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College basketball notebook: Harvard seeks revenge vs. Princeton

02.24.12 at 9:40 am ET
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Keith Wright defends Princeton's Brendan Connolly during Harvard's lone Ivy League loss on Feb. 11. (AP)

Two weeks ago, in a game televised on ESPNU that allowed Harvard to show the nation why it deserved its Top 25 ranking, the Crimson fell flat against Princeton. The 70-62 loss knocked the Crimson out of the rankings and, more importantly, put them in a vulnerable position in the league race.

Now, Harvard heads into a huge weekend at Lavietes Pavilion, where it has won a school-record 27 consecutive games. With Princeton coming in on Friday night and second-place Penn on Saturday, Harvard (23-3, 9-1 Ivy) could clinch the title with a sweep. On the other hand, the Crimson could be out of the top spot if they are swept.

First on the docket is a chance to get revenge against Princeton (15-10, 6-3). It should help that Harvard gets the Tigers on the first night of the Friday-Saturday schedule as opposed to playing Penn and then having a quick turnaround to prepare.

“It’s going to be nice to go up against them on Friday night,” Harvard center Keith Wright said after Saturday’s win over Yale. “I can’t wait.”

Added Wright: “We always have something to prove, every night. Especially with them. We felt like we let one go down there. They were the hungrier team, they pulled it out. They deserved to win. So, we’ve just got to come back and attack harder.”

The Crimson might not come out and say it, but losing that game at Princeton had to sting more than usual. Not only did the Tigers beat Harvard on a buzzer-beater in a one-game playoff to earn the league’s NCAA tournament berth last season, the Crimson have not won at Jadwin Gym since 1989. Princeton fans stormed the court after the game.

“They’ve been an outstanding team and program in this league forever,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “They’re always going to have a  swagger, I think, about who they are. We’ve always had our hands full, as we all know.”

Amaker is playing it cautiously, as he knows how quickly his team can go from and that looked like it would roll through the Ivy League to one that could come up short of winning the school’s first-ever outright Ivy title.

“Our sport, college basketball can be all over the map,” he said. “Within the course of a game, as we just saw [Saturday vs. Yale], the highs and lows and certainly as the season continues, it’s hard to sit here and predict how we’re going to be because we play a pretty good stretch here for two games for a weekend that that means we’re going to be this way the remainder of the year or next weekend. It’s one day at a time, one step at a time. If we can prepare this week like we did last week coming into this weekend, I’ll be pleased and then we’ll look forward to the ballgames for next weekend. Anything after that, I’ll wait and see what’s served up for us.”

Both games are sold out. Saturday’s game against Penn (15-11, 7-2) has been made available on ESPN3.com, so fans can watch on their computers what could be a title-clinching game for the Crimson.

Read More: Harvard, Ivy League, Keith Wright, Penn

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