Harvard barely missed out on a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament, and will instead have to settle for the 2011 NIT Championship. The No. 6 seeded Crimson will begin their run toward an NIT title when the schedule opens play Tuesday night, facing No. 3 seed Oklahoma State at Gallagher-Iba Arena at 7:30 p.m. EST (ESPN).
This marks the first ever meeting between Harvard (23-6) and Oklahoma State (19-13). Harvard is playing in the postseason for the third time in school history. The Crimson went to the NCAA Tournament in 1946 and played in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament in 2010.
The Crimson are in the midst of one of its program's best years, in which they were co-champions of the Ivy League for the first time ever and have won the most games in program history. Harvard's season came to a disappointing end in a one-game playoff for the Ivy League title, losing to Princeton on Douglas Davis' game-winner at the buzzer.
The Ivy League has faired well in the NIT, posting an 8-7 all-time record in the tournament. Princeton won the NIT in 1975. Harvard is the first Ivy League team to compete in the NIT since Brown did so in 2003. Yale was the last Ivy League team to record a win in the NIT, beating Rutgers 67-65 in 2002.
Keith Wright, the 2011 Ivy League Player of the Year, leads the Crimson in both scoring (14.9 PPG) and rebounding (8.4 RPG). Christian Webster is second in scoring, averaging 13.3 points, and Kyle Casey averages 10.6 points and 5.9 rebounds. Oliver McNally is averaging 10.2 points while Brandyn Curry averages 9.6 points and 5. assists.
When the game is on the line, the Crimson will almost certainly put the ball in the hands of Keith and McNally.
In the last four minutes of games, McNally is tied for the Harvard lead with Keith Wright with a 66.7 shooting percentage. McNally has made six of his nine shots in the final minutes, four of which were from beyond the arc. He is averaging 1.5 points in the last four minutes of games and is 28-of-30 from the foul line (.933). (via GoCrimson.com)
Harvard is ranked 85th in the nation in scoring (72.1 PPG) and 13th in team field goal percentage (47.7%). The Crimson are also ranked 76th in assists (14.3 APG) and 190th in rebounding (32.5 RPG).