Wesley Saunders scored 18 points and Laurent Rivard made five 3-pointers to help the 14th-seeded Crimson pull the biggest upset in Thursday's flurry of NCAA Tournament games, a 68-62 win over No. 3 New Mexico.
The Ivy League advanced for the first time since a very good Cornell team made the regional semifinals in 2010. The Mountain West Conference, judged one of the top two leagues in college basketball all season, fell to 1-3 so far this week.
While it might have been upset - Harvard's first-ever win in three measly trips to the tournament - it didn't look anything like a fluke.
The Crimson (20-9) put the clamps down on New Mexico's Tony Snell, holding him to nine points on 4 for 12 shooting after he dominated in the Mountain West Tournament. They banged inside with Lobos big men Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk, whose 22 points provided New Mexico's only consistent offense.
Mostly, they showed none of the jitters that marked their trip to the tournament last year - a 79-70 loss to Vanderbilt in Harvard's first NCAA appearance since 1946.
"YYYYYEEEEESSSSSSSSS!!! HARVARD winssss!!! hahahahhah i told you" tweeted Jeremy Lin, Harvard's most famous basketball alumnus.
Rivard went 6 of 7 from 3 in that one - played on New Mexico's home court in The Pit - and was clearly pumped for an encore. He was 5 of 9 this time, with three of them coming in the first half, while Harvard was holding a small lead and, more importantly, answering every surge the Lobos (29-6) threw at them. Rivard finished with 17 points.
Christian Webster was more of a role player last year, but jumped to the fore in 2013; he finished with 11 points and was gesturing after each of his three made 3s, even pointing to his forehead after making one from the corner in the first half.
Based on their regular-season and conference tournament wins, the Lobos were a popular pick to head to the Final Four this season.
The school even gave Alford a new, 10-year contract Wednesday that called for a $125,000 bonus for a Final Four trip.
They'll save the money but feel the pain.
WICHITA STATE 73, PITTSBURGH 55
In Salt Lake City, Malcolm Armstead had 22 points, Cleanthony Early added 21 and ninth-seeded Wichita State (27-8) defeated eighth-seeded Pittsburgh (24-9).
The Shockers forced the Panthers into 15 turnovers and held Pittsburgh to 35 percent shooting, including 1 of 17 from 3-point range.
ARIZONA 81, BELMONT 64
In Salt Lake City, Mark Lyons scored 23 points and sixth-seeded Arizona (26-7) rolled past No. 11 seed Belmont (26-7).
Arizona held a 44-18 edge on the boards, outscored Belmont 36-18 in the paint, blocked five shots and outshot the Bruins from 3-point range.
MARQUETTE 59, DAVIDSON 58
In Lexington, Ky., Vander Blue’s layup with one second left capped Marquette’s rally from a nine-point deficit and gave the third-seeded Golden Eagles (24-8) a victory over 14th-seeded Davidson (26-8).
Blue and Jamil Wilson made consecutive 3-pointers to bring Marquette within 58-57 with 11 seconds left. The Golden Eagles then caught a huge break when De’Mon Brooks’ long inbounds pass went out of bounds at midcourt with 5.5 seconds left.
Blue took full advantage after getting Wilson’s inbounds pass, driving left and finding room for the winning basket. He finished with 16 points.
BUTLER 68, BUCKNELL 56
In Lexington, Ky., Andrew Smith had a double-double including a career-high 16 rebounds, Roosevelt Jones added 14 points and Butler (27-8) made its free throws down the stretch to hold off upset-minded Bucknell (28-6).
After trailing for most of the game, 11th-seeded Bucknell got back into it with a 19-2 second-half run. But after Joe Willman’s jumper cut Butler’s lead to 43-42 with 6:56 left, the Bison went almost five minutes without scoring. Butler went 18 of 20 at the line in the last 4:43.
CALIFORNIA 64, UNLV 61
In San Jose, Calif., Allen Crabbe had 19 points and nine rebounds, reserve Robert Thurman scored all 12 of his points on dunks and 12th-seeded California (21-11) held off fifth-seeded UNLV (25-10).
Buoyed by the crowd support of a strong contingent so close to Berkeley, the Golden Bears held the Rebels without a basket for more than 11 minutes in the second half.
SYRACUSE 81, MONTANA 34
In San Jose, Calif., Brandon Triche scored 20 points, C.J. Fair added 13 and fourth-seeded Syracuse (27-9) shut down No. 13 seed Montana (25-7) with its zone defense.
Michael Carter-Williams chipped in four points, eight rebounds and nine assists as the Orange raced out to an early lead that grew as big as 50 points and coasted past the Grizzlies to their most lopsided tournament win since beating Brown 101-52 in the first round in 1986.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 56
In Auburn Hills, Mich., Glenn Robinson III scored 21 points and Mitch McGary added 13 and nine rebounds, helping fourth-seeded Michigan (27-7) overcome a rough night for Trey Burke to beat 13th-seeded South Dakota State (25-10).
Burke made only two field goals and left the game briefly in the second half after a hard fall under the basket. The star point guard came back after that, but he finished with only six points.
VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH 88,
In Auburn Hills, Mich., Troy Daniels had 23 points, Juvonte Reddic scored 21 and Virginia Commonwealth (27-8) routed Akron (26-7) in the most lopsided victory by a fifth-seeded team over a No. 12 in NCAA Tournament history.
The previous mark was set by Wyoming in a 35-point win over Howard in 1981 and matched by Tennessee against Long Beach State in 2007, according to STATS.
NORTH CAROLINA A&T 48
In Lexington, Ky., Russ Smith scored 23 points and set a Louisville NCAA Tournament record with a career-high eight steals, and Peyton Siva had eight assists as the Cardinals (30-5) demolished North Carolina A&T (20-17).
The Cardinals finished with a season-high 20 steals and forced the Aggies into 27 turnovers en route to their 11th consecutive win.
COLORADO STATE 84, MISSOURI 72
In Lexington, Ky., Dorian Green scored 17 of his 26 points in the first half and eighth-seeded Colorado State (26-8) beat No. 9 Missouri (23-11).
Phil Pressey led Missouri (23-11) with 20 points.
MICHIGAN STATE 65, VALPARAISO 54
In Auburn Hills, Mich., Derrick Nix had 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to help power third-seeded Michigan State (26-8) past 14th-seeded Valparaiso (26-8).
The Spartans went on a 26-5 run in the first half to take control, and cruised to an easy victory.
MEMPHIS 54, SAINT MARY’S 52
In Auburn Hills, Mich., Matthew Dellavedova’s 3-pointer from the right wing sailed long as time expired, allowing sixth-seeded Memphis (31-4) to hold off 11th-seeded Saint Mary’s (28-7).
The Tigers led by 15 in the first half but nearly gave the game away in the final seconds.
Joe Jackson had 14 points and seven assists for Memphis.
SAINT LOUIS 64,
NEW MEXICO STATE 44
In San Jose, Calif., Dwayne Evans scored 24 points, Cody Ellis added 12 points and fourth-seeded Saint Louis (28-6) overwhelmed New Mexico State (24-11) in the second round.
Playing through the death of Rick Majerus in December, Saint Louis reached another mark for its late coach. The Billikens eclipsed the 1988-89 team’s school record of 27 victories.
OREGON 68, OKLAHOMA STATE 55
In San Jose, Calif., Damyean Dotson scored 17 points and Arsalan Kazemi added 11 points and 17 rebounds to help 12th-seeded Oregon (27-8) extend a run that began in the Pac-12 Tournament by beating fifth-seeded Oklahoma State (24-9).
Oklahoma State star freshman Marcus Smart came into the game with the hype of a top NBA prospect but was held to 14 points on 5 for 13 shooting.