I've got the chills, and a random player named Sampson Carter is responsible.
Thus is the power of college basketball, now and forever, November or March.
If you happen to be reading this because you weren't able to catch the 10 a.m. tip between Harvard and UMass (1-0) amid ESPN's 24-hour college hoops marathon, know that you missed a good one. Both teams could be bubble-worthy or better by March and they played like it Tuesday.
In fact, Harvard (1-1) played better than almost everybody outside of Massachusetts would have expected. The Crimson could have and should have won this game.
But Carter was the surprise killer, hitting a 3 off a dish from All-Atlantic 10 UMass point guard Chaz Williams with 1.7 seconds left in the game. It gave UMass a 67-64 lead, which is how the game would end. Carter's shot was so surprising for two reasons. First, he's made only 16 3-pointers in his career, and second, he hadn't made a shot all morning.
So much for that.
Carter's 3-pointer came after another surprising trey from UMass tied the game with 38.8 seconds to go. UMass junior guard Jesse Morgan was 1 of 7 from deep before he swished a trey from about 23 feet, tying the game at 64. After that shot, Williams forced Harvard into a turnover and set up the possession for the game-winner.
Tommy Amaker's impressive-but-undermanned Harvard team had two turnovers in its final three possessions, the only nonturnover coming in the form of a fullcourt heave that didn't fall as time expired.
Harvard is playing this season without two of its best players, Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, who are serving one-year suspensions after getting ensnared in a cheating scandal with other Harvard students. We'll see what Harvard can become, but despite a fairly crushing loss, this was a good sign. Princeton is considered the favorite in the Ivy after a couple of years that saw Harvard be the cream at the top. That could still be the case.
And as for UMass, it's a solid Atlantic 10 team that should probably start winning games more convincingly and consistently. We don't yet know if it's for sure a top-five team in the league. But it is fun to watch, and I get the sense the Minutemen are going to be in a boatload of really tight and wild finishes this season.