On a late December evening back in 2005, 14th ranked Boston College rolled by Harvard at Conte Forum, racing out to a 39-21 halftime lead before taking the game by a final of 89-55. Somehow, that was the last time BC beat Harvard.
The Crimson are on a five game winning streak against Boston College that started in 2009 when Harvard dramatically took down a 17th ranked BC team that was fresh off an upset of the eventual National Champion UNC Tar Heels. Since then, Harvard’s hoops programs has been on the rise, as coach Tommy Amaker has turned them from Ivy League cellar dweller to one of the top mid-major programs in the nation. The Eagles program has been headed in a different direction–the Eagles have not made the NCAA Tourney since ’09 and their coach, Steve Donahue, who took over the program in 2010, occupies a scalding seat. Disappointment and indifference are the main themes surrounding the basketball program on the Heights right now, while excitement continues to build around Harvard’s basketball team.
The last two games in the series have been true bloodbaths. Harvard controlled BC last year, winning 79-63, and the game two years ago, when Harvard occupied the number 23 spot in the polls, was similarly one-sided, as Harvard held the Eagles to just 13 points in the second half en route to a 21 point win.
To this point, every game in the series’ recent history has been played on BC’s
turf hardwood at Conte Forum. That will change when the two programs meet tomorrow–Harvard will host the game at Lavietes Pavilion. Perhaps it is the change of scenery BC needs to turn the tide in the series. But don’t bet on it. The Eagles enter the game marred in an embarrassing slump. They’re 4-9 and have won only one of their last six games. Defensively, this BC team is one of the worst in the nation. Harvard, on the other hand, is 11-1 and playing well, attempting to poke their way into the top 25.
It has gotten to a point in the BC-Harvard rivalry (if we can even call it that) where a BC win would be a large upset. Perhaps it got to that point a couple of years ago. But there will still be plenty at stake in this year’s edition of the game. Every game is huge for Harvard, as any loss has the potential to make a big impact on their NCAA Tournament seeding. A win over an ACC team–even a bad ACC team–would provide a boost to their resume. BC doesn’t look anything close to NCAA bound, but they haven’t beaten a Division One team since November. A win over Harvard would put a stop to the bleeding.
Another thing to watch in the game will be the matchup of the team’s talented point guards. Boston College’s Olivier Hanlan is an offensively potent star and has been a rare bright spot for the Eagles this year. Siyani Chambers of Harvard is lightning quick and a fantastic shooter. The two 1s should provide plenty of entertainment.
A few years ago, BC was the big dog in Boston’s college hoops scene. Now, Harvard has taken that role. It is fitting that the two will take each other on at Harvard’s place tomorrow.