Crimson takes on tougher schedule

Coming off their first NCAA tournament appearance in 65 years, and their second straight Ivy League title, the Harvard Crimson aren’t satisfied. In fact, coach Tommy Amaker appears to believe his team is ready for bigger and better things.

At least that’s what the Crimson’s 2012-13 schedule seems to suggest.

After playing the likes of Loyola Marymount, UCF, Seattle and Utah (along with Florida State and UConn) in the nonconference portion of its schedule in 2011-12, Harvard is attempting to step up the level of competition for the upcoming season.

On the schedule are tough road matchups with California (which finished tied for second in the Pac-12 with Oregon at 13-5 last season, 24-10 overall), Saint Mary’s (first in WCC at 14-2, 27-6 overall) and Memphis (first in Conference USA at 13-3, 26-9 overall), as well as matchups with four of the five other Massachusetts Division I teams: at UMass, at Boston College, vs. Boston University and vs. Holy Cross.

The Crimson will have at least three of their games broadcast nationally, with the game at UMass part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon, the game at St. Mary’s on ESPN2 and the matchup with Memphis schedule for FSN.

“In addition to the always competitive Ivy League slate, we look forward to once again playing one of the strongest nonconference schedules in Harvard history,” Amaker said in a statement. “We look forward to getting our new season underway and are excited by the challenges it presents.”

The Crimson return 14 players from last season’s team, which earned the school its first ranking in the AP poll and finished the season 26-5 overall and 12-2 in the Ivy League. Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry were named co-captains and will be counted on to shoulder much of the load that departed seniors Keith Wright and Oliver McNally carried the past two seasons.

In addition to the captains, Wesley Saunders, Steve Moundou-Missi and Jonah Travis will all be expected to take steps forward in their sophomore seasons.

Amaker will also add a talented freshman class, led by Agunwa Okolie (from Ajax, Ontario) and Mike Hall (from Atlanta).

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.