Harvard Athletics announced the schedules for its men’s and women’s basketball teams last Thursday.
Men’s key non-conference games:
11/9/18 vs Northeastern
The Huskies (23-10, 14-4 CAA in ’17-’18) were co-champions of the CAA last year, and lost the title game to the College of Charleston. One of its 23 wins came against Harvard, 77-61, at Matthews Arena last November. The team returns senior forward Vasa Pusica (first-team All-CAA and runner-up for Player of the Year), junior guard Shawn Occeus (Defensive Player of the Year), junior guard Bolden Brace (Sixth Man of the Year), and sophomore forward Tomas Murphy (All-Rookie team).
11/21/18 at University of San Francisco
The Dons (22-17, 9-9 West Coast Conference) will be the first of two WCC opponents in three days as the Crimson head out west to California. USF is coached by former Columbia head coach Kyle Smith, who has led the Dons to back-to-back 20 win seasons for the first time since ’80-’82. In his two years at USF, Smith has a 42-30 record and last year’s team made the final of the College Basketball Invitational Tournament. In ’18-’19, the Dons return first team All-WCC senior guard Frankie Ferrari, who led the team with 11.4 points and 4.6 assists per game, and junior guard Jordan Ratinho, who was third in scoring with 10.7 points a game and first in made three pointers with 86 on the year.
11/24/18 at St. Mary’s
The Gaels (30-6; 16-2 West Coast Conference) were in the top 25 for most of the season and ended the year #32 at KenPom. St. Mary’s came in 2nd in the WCC regular season and lost in the conference tournament semifinals to BYU. Missing out on March Madness, the Gaels went to the NIT, but lost in the first round to Utah in overtime. Last November, St. Mary’s defeated Harvard 89-71 in the Wooden Legacy tournament. The Gaels will be led by junior guard Jordan Ford, who averaged 11.1 points a game, and junior guard Tanner Krebs, who averaged 7.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
12/8/18 at Vermont
The Catamounts (27-8, 15-1 America East) won the conference regular season, but lost by three to soon-to-be NCAA Tournament Cinderella UMBC in the AE tournament final. Missing out on the NCAA Tournament, Vermont ended up in the NIT, but lost to Middle Tennessee in the first round. Twice during ’17-’18, the Catamounts defeated Ivy opponents on the road, beating Yale 79-73 in November, and defeating Harvard 62-52, in January. The win over Harvard was the Crimson’s only home loss in the newly renovated Lavietes Pavilion. Vermont lose three all-league players next season, but return senior guard Ernie Duncan (2nd team All-AE; All-Defensive team; 10.8 ppg), junior forward Anthony Lamb (14.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg), and sophomore forward Stef Smith (All-Rookie team).
1/2/19 at University of North Carolina
The Tar Heels (26-11, 11-7 Atlantic Coast) finished last season tied for third in the ACC’s regular season and the runner-up in the league’s postseason tournament. In the NCAA Tournament, UNC was the #2 seed in the West Regional, but lost in the Round of 32 to #7 seed Texas A&M. Roy Williams’ team will enter the 2018-2019 season in the Top 10. They lose Theo Pinson and Joel Berry, but return senior forward Luke Maye (1st team All-ACC, 3rd team All-America; 16.9 ppg and 10.1 rpg), graduate student guard Cameron Johnson (12.4 ppg) and senior guard Kenny Williams (11.4 ppg). The Tar Heels’s strong recruiting class is headlined by five star forward Nassir Little. This will be the first meeting between the two teams, since the #4 seed Tar Heels escaped a first round upset with a 67-65 victory over the #13 seed Crimson.
Men’s key conference games
2/15/19 at Princeton University
Last year, Harvard traveled to Jadwin Gymnasium and defeated the Tigers (13-16, 5-9 Ivy) in overtime, 72-66. It was the first win at Princeton since a 75-72 victory on 1/30/15. Princeton expects to have a bounce back season with the return of second team senior All-Ivy guards Myles Stephens (first team All-Ivy & Defensive Player of the Year in ’16-’17; 15.3 ppg and 6.3 rpg) and Devin Cannady (honorable mention All-Ivy in ’16-’17; 16.7 ppg and 5.4 rpg), as well as the arrival of ESPN four-star point guard Jaelin Llewellyn.
2/16/19 at Penn
The Quakers (24-9, 12-2 Ivy) beat the Crimson in two close contests at the Palestra in 2018, 74-71 in the regular season and 68-65 in the Ivy Tournament championship. The wins stretched Penn’s home streak to four with Harvard’s last victory in West Philly coming on 1/31/15 (63-38). The Red & Blue will attempt to stay on top of the league with first team All-Ivy junior forward A. J. Brodeur (13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game), second team All-Ivy junior shooting guard Ryan Betley (14.3 points, 2.5 made threes and 5.0 rebounds per game), and incoming 6′ 10″ power forward Michael Wang from Mater Dei High School in Southern California.
3/9/19 at Columbia
Harvard lost to the Lions (8-19, 5-9 Ivy) 83-76 at Levien Gymnasium for its first conference lost of the season. The 2018 defeat was the third straight for the Crimson in NYC with its last win a 80-70 victory on 2/28/15. While Columbia has had a tumultuous off-season with the surprise losses of Lukas Meisner, Jaron Faulds and Myles Hanson, they still have second team All-Ivy junior point guard Mike Smith (17.6 ppg – 2nd in conference and 4.6 apg – 1st in conference) and senior guard Quenton Adlesh (11.4 points and 2.7 made threes a game). The Lions will also welcome 6′ 5″ shooting guard Maka Ellis from Sierra Vista High School in Las Vegas (3 star ESPN) and 6′ 7″ forward Ike Nweke from Georgetown Preparatory School in Maryland.
Women’s key non-conference games:
11/9/18 at Notre Dame
Harvard opens the season at the home of the defending National Champions. Notre Dame (35-3, 15-1 Atlantic Coast) finished the regular season tied for first in the ACC, and lost in the conference finals to co-champion Louisville. In the NCAA Tournament, the #1 seeded Fighting Irish got to the final four where the team defeated UConn in the national semifinals and Mississippi State in the championship. UND is coached by Naismith Hall of Fame member Muffet McGraw, who is starting her 32nd year in South Bend and has a 77.7 winning percentage. UND will be led by senior guard Alexi Ogunbowale (first team All-ACC; 2nd team All-America; 20.8 ppg) and senior forward Jessica Shepard (first team All-ACC; 15.6 ppg and 8.1 rpg). Last season, Notre Dame defeated Penn, but were held to a regular season low 66 points by the Quakers.
11/30/18 vs Quinnipiac
The Bobcats (28-6, 18-0 MAAC) won the regular season and postseason MAAC titles in ’17-’18. In the NCAA Tournament, they lost to UConn in the 2nd round, one year after making the Sweet 16. Quinnipiac will be led by a pair of first team All-MAAC seniors, forward Jay Fen (13.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game) and guard/forward Aryn McClure (12.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game). The Bobcats faced one Ivy League team last season, losing to Princeton at home, 60-46.
12/4/18 vs Maine
Despite being picked sixth in its league preseason poll, the Black Bears (23-10, 13-3 America East) won the regular season and postseason AE tournament. Maine, which had been given a #15 seed, lost in the first round to Texas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. AE Coach of the Year Amy Vachon’s Black Bears will return junior guard Blanca Millan (first team All-AE and All-Defensive team; 17.5 ppg and 5.1 rpg), senior guard Tanesha Sutton (2nd team All-AE; 12.1 ppg and 6.9 rpg), senior guard Parise Rossignol (Sixth Person of the Year) and sophomore guard Dor Saar (Rookie of the Year). Last season, Maine earned its first win of the year with a convincing 76-51 win over Harvard at its Tip-Off Tournament.
12/8/18 vs Rutgers
The Scarlet Knights (20-12, 7-9 Big Ten) are led by Hall of Famer C. Vivian Stringer, the only women’s or men’s coach who has led three different teams to the NCAA Final Four (Cheney, Iowa, Rutgers). Stringer, who is starting her 43rd year in coaching and 24th year in New Brunswick, enters the ’18-’19 season with 997 victories. Last year, Rutgers was on the wrong side of the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, and refused an invitation to the WNIT. The Scarlet Knights lost first team All-Big Ten guard Tyler Scaife and her 19.4 points per game, but return senior forward Stasha Carey (29 starts; 7.5 ppg and 6.8 rpg), junior point guard Ciani Cryor (5 starts; 6.0 ppg and 3.4 apg), and senior point guard Khadaizha Sanders (25 starts; 5.2 ppg and 3.7 apg). Rutgers defeated Princeton, 70-50, last December, but lost by 30 to the Tigers at Jadwin in November, 2016.
12/30/18 at California
The Golden Bears (21-11, 11-7 Pac-12) came in fifth place in its conference and lost in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals to UCLA. Cal received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and a #7 seed, but were upset by #10 Virginia in the first round. The Golden Bears are led by senior forward Kristine Anigwe (three-time All-Conference team; 16.7 ppg and 8.8 rpg), sophomore guard Kianna Smith (31starts; 8.6 ppg and 4.8 apg), and senior guard Asha [starts; 12.8 ppg and 3.5 apg). Cal faced one Ivy League team last year, traveling to Providence in December and defeating Brown, 89-79, for the Bears only non-conference loss.
Women’s key conference games:
2/1/19 at Yale
Harvard crushed the Bulldogs (19-13, 8-6 Ivy), scoring 97 points and winning by 24 points, at home in late January. Three weeks later, the Crimson faced Yale a day after Harvard beat Brown by 12 and the Elis lost in overtime to Dartmouth. With a chance to create space for a spot in the Ivy Tournament, Harvard lost by 6 in New Haven. The defending Women’s Basketball Invitational champions lose first-team forward Jen Berkowitz and two-time Defensive Player of the Year Tamara Simpson, but have junior guard Roxy Barahman (13.5 points, 4.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game), junior guard/forward Megan Gorman (6.1 rebounds per game) and 6′ 5″ first-year forward Camilla Emsbo, (ESPN five star and #34 overall recruit).
After losing to the Tigers (24-6, 12-2 Ivy) by 33 in New Jersey in February, the Crimson bounced back to defeat the regular season and tournament champs by 14 at Lavietes two weeks later. It was the first home win against Princeton since a three point victory on 3/1/13. Princeton has junior forward Bella Alarie (Ivy Player of the Year; 13.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game), sophomore point guard Carlie Littlefield (8.3 points and 2.8 assists per game), and sophomore guard Abby Meyers (9.4 points per game).
3/1/19 at Penn
Like the men’s team, the Harvard women lost twice to Penn (22-9, 11-3 Ivy) at the Palestra in 2018. While the first was a 20 point blowout loss in February, a more confident Crimson team only lost by 5 in the Ivy Tournament semifinal. Harvard heads into the 2019 Ivy season with a six game losing streak at the Cathedral of Basketball (five straight to Penn and one to Princeton in the 2017 Ivy Tournament semifinals). Penn loses three fifths of its starting lineup, including all-Ivy stars Michelle Nwokedi and Anna Ross, but they have sophomore forward Eleah Parker (second team All-Ivy & Rookie of the Year; 11.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game), senior guard Ashley Parker (7.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game), and a strong incoming class.