Men's Basketball Travels to Minnesota

Photo by Gil Talbot
Photo by Gil Talbot
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Harvard vs. Minnesota
Dec. 30, 2017
       2 p.m. (ET)
Williams Arena
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Big Ten Network

Wayne Randazzo, Shon Morris
First Meeting
Harvard vs. Minnesota (PDF)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Heading to Big Ten country for the first time this season, Harvard men's basketball will face Minnesota on Saturday, Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. (ET) at Williams Arena. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

The Opening Tip
• Harvard is off to a 5-7 start with victories over MIT, UMass, Saint Joseph's, Fordham, and Boston University. Sophomore Bryce Aiken leads the Crimson with 17.6 points per game, including a career-best 30 in a victory over the Minutemen, while classmate Chris Lewis has been strong inside, scoring 11.9 points per game on 57.1 percent shooting. A third sophomore, Seth Towns, has added 12.6 per game, including a season-high 25 at No. 7 Kentucky Dec. 2.

• The action is thankfully not taking place on the blacktop, as the projected high temperature for Minneapolis on Saturday is minus-5. Harvard has never played at Williams Arena before, and the meeting is the first in program history. Head Coach Tommy Amaker is 8-6 all-time against the Golden Gophers.

• 16 different Harvard players have started a game this season, which leads the nation. Deploying a balanced attack, Harvard has 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes per game this season.

Setting the Scene
Harvard is 6-19 all-time against current Big Ten teams, including two wins apiece against Michigan State and Rutgers. Minnesota is the second power-5 opponent Harvard has faced this season, joining Kentucky, and Harvard has topped a power-5 team in nine of the last 10 years.

Last Time Out
Hitting the road to face its fourth Atlantic 10 foe of the season, Harvard men's basketball fell to George Washington, 58-48, on Saturday afternoon at the Charles E. Smith Center.

Sophomore Seth Towns led the scoring with 12 points, while classmate Chris Lewis totaled 10. Junior Corey Johnson, sophomore Christian Juzang and freshman Danilo Djuricic tallied eight points apiece, with Johnson and Djuricic combining for a team-best seven rebounds. Johnson also led the team with three assists.

Duh-Nuh-Nuh, Duh-Nuh-Nuh
Harvard has been on television in some form for 11 of its first 12 games, including a Dec. 2 contest on ESPN's main channel against Kentucky. It was just the second time in program history that Harvard men's basketball appeared on ESPN's flagship channel, with the first coming in 2011 against Oklahoma State. In total, the Crimson is set to play 25 televised games in 2017-18, which paces the Ivy League.

Additionally, freshman Danilo Djuricic appeared in SportsCenter's top-10 plays countdown Dec. 6 after his ferocious tip-jam against Fordham.

Just Lew It
Chris Lewis has been tough to handle on the glass and in the paint, as the sophomore is among the Ivy League Leaders in blocks per game (1.33), double-doubles (2), field goal percentage (57.1) and offensive rebounds per game (2.33). His 11.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game are all career-bests.

Player of the Week
Opening the season with a career-best performance, Harvard men's basketball sophomore Bryce Aiken was selected as the Ivy League Player of the Week for Nov. 6-12.

Aiken became Harvard's first player to net 30 in a game since Wesley Saunders '15, guiding the Crimson to a 70-67 (OT) victory over Massachusetts. The Randolph, New Jersey native poured in 12 of Harvard's final 16 points, including a game-winning stop-and-pop 3-pointer from 26 feet with just 1.9 seconds to go in the extra frame. Aiken also scored 12 points in the opener against MIT, and shot a dazzling 58 percent from 3-point range over the two games.

Additionally, freshman Danilo Djuricic was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week for Nov. 13-19.

Scouting Minnesota
The Golden Gophers are led by Richard Pitino is his fifth season, and are a year removed from earning a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Minnesota is 11-3 this season, and 1-1 in Big Ten play to start the season.

Minnesota has been strong inside over the first 14 games, and ranks in the top-10 nationally in blocks per game, rebounds per game and free throws. Jordan Murphy has posted 19.6 points and 12.6 rebounds per game, the latter of which leads the country, while Reggie Lynch has posted nearly four blocks per game. Nate Mason leads the guards with 15.5 points per game.

Picked at the Top
Harvard men's basketball was picked by the media to finish first in the preseason Ivy League poll, finishing above Yale, Princeton and Penn with 121 total votes. Additionally, Harvard received votes in both the Associated Press poll and USA Today coaches' poll. The full preseason predictions can be found below:

Team (1st place) – Total Votes

  1. Harvard (6) – 121
  2. Yale (8) - 118
  3. Princeton (3) - 114
  4. Penn - 86
  5. Columbia - 55
  6. Cornell -  48
  7. Dartmouth - 39
  8. Brown – 31

Double-Double Trouble
Three Harvard players have combined for four double-doubles this season, with sophomore Chris Lewis posting a league-best two:

Chris Lewis vs. MIT - 13 points, 10 reb.
Chris Lewis vs. Fordham - 10 points, 11 reb.
Seth Towns vs. Holy Cross - 24 points, 10 reb.
Robert Baker vs. Saint Joseph's - 14 points, 11 reb. 

Ivy League Network
The Ivy League Network returns for a fifth season as the home for all live streaming and on-demand video content for each of the conference's eight institutions. Broadcast in full HD and featuring a live score bug and play-by-play and color commentary, the Ivy League Network provides fans with unprecedented access to the Ancient Eight. Full archives of every game on the Ivy League Network are also available.

Multiple subscription options are available to fans, including school-specific and league-wide passes. To learn more about the Ivy League Network or to sign-up today, click here, or download the Ivy League Network app!

What's Next?
Harvard returns home for the first of two-straight at Lavietes Pavilion when it hosts Vermont on Tuesday, Jan. 2 at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on NESNplus and the Ivy League Network.