Men’s Basketball Opens NIT at Marquette

Photo courtesy Ivy League
Photo courtesy Ivy League
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Harvard vs. Marquette
March 14, 2018
            7 p.m. ET
Al McGuire Center
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Mitch Holthus, Mark Adams
First Meeting
Harvard vs. Marquette (PDF)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – After earning its sixth Ivy League title, but falling in the championship game of the Ivy League tournament, Harvard men's basketball will play in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) for the second time in program history. The seventh-seeded Crimson will take on second-seeded Marquette on Wednesday, March 14 at 7 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

The Opening Tip
• Harvard is 18-13 on the season, including a 12-2 mark in Ivy League action. The squad's 9-1 start in league play was its best since 2014-15, when the program capped five-straight years starting 9-1 in Ivy play. All five of those teams qualified for postseason play, including four NCAA tournament berths, and this year's team became the second in that trend to make the NIT.

• Sophomore Seth Towns leads the Crimson with 16.0 points per game, including 18.6 points per game in conference play, which ranked second in the league. He was named the Ivy League Player of the Year for his contributions, becoming the fourth Harvard player in program history to earn the honor.

• Harvard captured its sixth Ivy League championship, each coming under head coach Tommy Amaker, and the program's first since 2015, which capped a string of five-straight titles.

Last Time Out
Falling in heartbreaking fashion in the final minute, Harvard men's basketball dropped a hard-fought battle with Penn, 68-65, in the Ivy League Tournament championship on Sunday afternoon at the Palestra.

Sophomore Chris Lewis led the offense with 16 points, while four Harvard players ended in double figures. Sophomore Justin Bassey scored 15 with a team-leading eight rebounds, while classmates Seth Towns and Christian Juzang finishes with 13 and 11, respectively.

The loss came just a day after Harvard pulled away from Cornell, 74-55, in the semifinals. Towns and Lewis each had double-doubles, and Harvard made at least 10 3's for the fourth-straight game.

Sights and Sounds

Player of the Year
Sophomore Seth Towns became the fourth player in program history to be named Ivy Player of the Year, joining Joe Carrabino '85, Keith Wright '12 and Wesley Saunders '15. He is the first underclassman to win the honor in a decade, as Cornell's Louis Dale earned the award as a sophomore in 2007-08.

The Columbus, Ohio native was also a unanimous selection to the All-Ivy League first team. Towns led the Crimson with 15.8 points per game on the season, including 18.6 per night during Ivy play, which ranked second in the league. A versatile scorer, Towns hit 49.3 percent of his 3-point attempts in Ivy play while hitting the third-most triples. He also averaged 5.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists this season.

All-Ivy League
Sophomore Chris Lewis was also named to the All-Ivy League first team after establishing himself as the most dominant interior presence in the conference. Lewis scored 12.7 points per game with 5.5 rebounds and a league-best 1.6 blocked shots per game.

Sophomore Justin Bassey was an honorable mention selection, as Harvard had a league-best three players with All-Ivy honors. His defensive presence helped Harvard to a league-best scoring defense at 66.9 points per game, and 65.6 points during Ivy play. The Denver, Colorado native averaged a team-best 5.7 rebounds per game from the wing, while scoring 7.5 points and dishing 2.6 assists per game.

Harvard is 0-1 all-time in the NIT, making its only appearance in 2011-12 with a trip to Oklahoma State. The postseason appearance was just the second in program history for the Crimson at the time.

Kyle Casey led the way with 13 points, while Keith Wright and Laurent Rivard tallied 10 points apiece, but the Harvard men's basketball team dropped its first-ever NIT outing to Oklahoma State, 71-54, at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Scouting Marquette
Marquette holds a 19-13 mark in 2017-18, including a 9-9 mark in Big East action. The Golden Eagles are making their 15th NIT appearance.

Markus Howard and Andrew Rouser are both averaging north of 20 points per game, at 20.4 and 20.1, respectively, while Sam Hauser is also in double figures with 14.8 per game. Marquette is a prolific outside shooting team, hitting 41.5 percent from beyond the arc.

Community Involvement

Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker was an assistant coach at Duke when Steve Wojciechowski was a point guard for the Blue Devils. The duo helped Duke to two NCAA Tournaments and one ACC Championship.

Just Lew It
Chris Lewis has been tough to handle on the glass and in the paint, as the sophomore leads the Ivy League in blocks per game (1.6), and iss among the leaders in double-doubles (5), field goal percentage (60.3) and offensive rebounds per game (1.9). He's also averaging a career-best 12.9 points per game, which ranks 11th in the league. Harvard also leads the league as a team in blocked shots, with 3.8 per game.

Against the Big East
The Crimson is 1-13 all-time against current Big East schools, with its lone win coming against DePaul in the 1969-70 season. Harvard has never faced Marquette, Butler, Creighton, Villanova or Xavier.

The Crimson last faced a Big East team in 2015-16, when it fell at Providence.

What's Next?
The winner of Harvard-Marquette will face the winner of Oregon-Rider, hosted by the higher seed. The game will be broadcast by one of the ESPN networks.