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Tommy Amaker

3/9/2011, 4:19 a.m.

Tommy Amaker

For centuries, Harvard has boasted of U.S. presidents and Supreme Court justices and too many Nobel Laureates to count. Walking through Harvard Yard, basketball coach Tommy Amaker would be awestruck — but never overcome — by the weight of the school’s history.

“I’m not sure you can go on this campus and find something that’s never been done before,” Amaker said Saturday night after the Crimson beat Princeton 79-67 to clinch at least a share of Harvard’s first-ever Ivy League title. “I’m thrilled for our school to finally say that we’re champions.”

Harvard wins the championship outright if Penn beats Princeton on Tuesday night; if the Tigers win, they will share the title and meet Harvard in a one-game playoff for the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

Harvard (23-5, 12-2 Ivy League) has not appeared in the NCAA tournament since 1946. It was the only Ivy League school that had not won a championship since the conference was formed in 1956-57.

Should Princeton beat Penn on Tuesday, the Ivies would consider Harvard and Princeton co-champions, but the automatic berth in the NCAA tournament would go to the winner of a one-game playoff.

“We’ve done what we could do,” Amaker said. “But for tonight: What a night for Harvard. What a night for the basketball team.”