The Harvard men announced a challenging 2019-2020 schedule, on Tuesday afternoon, which the Crimson faithful hope will prepare the team not only for its third straight regular season title, but its first Ivy Tournament championship and first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015.
The 15 game nonconference schedule features the usual contests against in-state rivals, as well as trips to Toronto, Florida, D.C. and California. The early part of the schedule will see the Crimson facing anywhere from four-to-five top-100 teams.
Harvard will open the season November 5th against MIT, before matching up against fellow Bay Staters Northeastern, Holy Cross, and UMass. On November 16th, the Crimson will go north to take on Buffalo, as part of the inaugural James Naismith Classic triple-header at Scotiabank Arena.
At Thanksgiving, Harvard will travel down to Disney to take on Texas A&M in the opening round of the Orlando Invitational. The next day, they will face either top-10 Maryland or Fran Dunphy-less Temple. In its final contest, the Crimson will face Marquette, Davidson, USC or Fairfield.
Following a break for Finals, the team will hit the road to take on George Washington and Howard right before Christmas. The Crimson will look to outperform last year’s effort against the Bison, now led by former Harvard assistant Kenny Blakeney, when Bryce Aiken came off the disabled list for his first action of the year. The first-team All-Ivy guard ended up with 16 points and five assists in front of a Howard crowd that featured Supreme Court Justice (and former Harvard Law School dean) Elena Kagan and California Senator Kamala Harris, who announced her run for President that morning.
The Crimson will close out 2019 on the left coast, taking on the California Golden Bears and the Kyle Smith-less San Francisco Dons. They will then return home to start 2020 against the UC-Irvine Anteaters on January 4th before starting Ivy play against Dartmouth on the 18th.
After the conference opener, the presumptive Ivy preseason favorites will hit the road for the next five games, including an important swing to Penn and Princeton on January 31st and February 1st.
Harvard’s Valentine’s Day game against the Cornell Big Red, will be the start of a closing stretch which will see the team playing six of its last eight games at Lavietes Pavilion. The Crimson will finish the regular season with a Senior Night game against defending Ivy Tournament champion Yale, and look to return the following weekend as the school hosts the fourth Ivy Tournament on March 14th and 15th.
Last season, Harvard went 19-12 overall and 10-4 in the conference. For the second straight year, the co-champions went into the Ivy Tournament as the No. 1 seed on the court of the No. 2 seed. The Crimson defeated Penn in the Ivy Tournament semifinal, but again found themselves on the wrong end of a hard-fought title game, losing to Yale 97-85.
Harvard earned the automatic bid to the NIT, defeating Georgetown in the first round, 71-68, and ended the season with a 78-77 loss at NC State.
The 2019-2020 Crimson will start the season around the top-25 in most polls (Bart Torvik has them at No. 19, Jon Rothstein lists them at No. 23 and Jeff Goodman puts them at No. 24). That lofty position is well-earned for an experienced team that will return 2018 Ivy Player of the Year and AP honorable mention All-America Seth Towns to a lineup that includes Aiken, 2018 first team All-Ivy Chris Lewis, 2018 honorable mention All-Ivy Justin Bassey, and 2019 Ivy Rookie of the Year Noah Kirkwood.
To this deep roster, which will have talented senior Christian Juzang and junior Danilo Djuricic expected to come off the bench, Tommy Amaker brings in another high profile recruiting class that features forwards Chris Ledlum from Northfield Mount Hermon and Ciarin Brayboy of New Trier High School (Winnetka, Illinois).
The seniors came in as top-10 recruiting class by ESPN in the fall of 2016. Despite suffering serious setbacks with major injuries to Aiken and Towns over the last two seasons, this group has had tremendous regular season success. If they can stay healthy and Amaker can settle on a core rotation quickly, this should be the year the Crimson finally win the Ivy Tournament and look to make some noise in March Madness.
2019-20 Harvard Men’s Basketball Schedule
11/5 Tue. vs M.I.T. (not ranked)
11/8 Fri. at Northeastern (Torvik rank #153)
11/10 Sun. vs MAINE (#301)
11/14 Thu. vs SIENA (#257)
11/16 Sat. vs Buffalo (#174) – at Toronto, James Naismith Classic
11/22 Fri. at Holy Cross (#327)
11/28 Thu. vs Texas A&M (#50) at Orlando, Orlando Invitational
11/29 Fri. vs Maryland (#7) or Temple (#86) at Orlando, Orlando Invitational
12/1 Sun. vs Marquette (#28), Davidson (#52), USC (#77), or Fairfield (#211) at Orlando, Orlando Invitational
12/7 Sat. vs UMASS (#281)
12/21 Sat. at George Washington (#167)
12/22 Sun. at Howard (#326)
12/29 Sun. at Cal (#132)
12/30 Mon. at San Franisco (#100)
1/4 Sat. vs U.C. IRVINE (#84)
1/18 Sat. vs DARTMOUTH (#151)
1/25 Sat. at Dartmouth
1/31 Fri. at Penn (#62)
2/1 Sat. at Princeton (#99)
2/7 Fri. at Yale (#193)
2/8 Sat. at Brown (#145)
2/14 Fri. vs CORNELL (#303)
2/15 Sat. vs COLUMBIA (#123)
2/21 Fri. vs PRINCETON
2/22 Sat. vs PENN
2/28 Fri. at Columbia
2/29 Sat. at Cornell
3/6 Fri. vs BROWN
3/7 Sat. vs YALE