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Harvard dancing for 2nd straight March

3/10/2013
Laurent Rivard and his teammates celebrate after beating Cornell to clinch at least a share of the Ivy League title. They would later clinch it outright after Princeton fell to Brown. Gil Talbot/Harvard University

This time, Harvard only had to wait about a half hour to find out its fate.

After the Crimson held serve at home against Cornell on Saturday evening, winning 65-56, they had to wait for Princeton's game with Brown to end to know whether they would be assured of a share of the Ivy League title for a third straight season, or whether they would own it outright.

And when the buzzer sounded in Providence, with Brown winning 80-67, Tommy Amaker & Co. knew: They were Ivy League champs, and would be headed to the Big Dance for the second straight season.

Last season, the Crimson were watching from home -- most of them studying for midterms -- when they won the Ivy League as Princeton beat Penn.

“When you’re in league play and you’re on the road, chances are those things have a way of happening," Amaker said Friday night, after Harvard came back to beat Columbia and Princeton tripped up at Yale, giving control of the Ivy back to the Crimson.

Those things happened again on Saturday, with the Bears (13-15, 7-7 Ivy) upsetting the Tigers (16-11, 9-4) to assure Harvard's second straight trip to the NCAA tournament.

“If we win tomorrow we get a chance to say we’re Ivy champions and to hang a banner and all the things that come with that is pretty significant and pretty neat," Amaker said Friday. "So I’m really obviously proud of our kids for having us in the position to do that, given this year and the journey we’ve been on all season.”

Before the season even started, Harvard was dealt a blow when would-be senior co-captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry were implicated in the academic cheating scandal that made waves on the Cambridge campus. Both chose to withdraw from school for the year, rather than risk starting the year and losing a season of eligibility while the appeal process was underway.

Just like that, instead of heavy favorites to repeat the Crimson were predicted to fall short in the Ancient Eight. There was only one problem with that: The players left on the roster had another idea.

Led by freshman point guard Siyani Chambers, who should be a shoo-in for Ivy Rookie of the Year, and sophomore forward Wesley Saunders, who should be a shoo-in for Ivy Player of the Year, the Crimson came close to leading the Ivy wire to wire and will now wait only for their names to be called on Selection Sunday.

“It’s a great position to be in," Saunders said after beating Columbia on Friday. "We just took care of business and did what we were supposed to do tonight. So hopefully we can keep building on this and do some damage.”

Just wait 'til the field gets a look at these Crimson.

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