For about 45 minutes Sunday night, Kyle Casey was tense. Seated with his hands folded in his lap atop shaky knees, Casey watched the NCAA tournament selection show with the rest of his Harvard teammates.

The 6-foot-7 forward’s eye were fixated on the television mounted on the wall and he grew more animated as the matchups were announced. When No. 5 Saint Louis was on the screen, Casey stared at the screen emotionally saying, “Come on,” before waiting to see if Harvard would be picked. When it was No.  7 Texas, he nodded his head, raised his arm and said, “Yes, let’s go,” only to sigh when Arizona State was selected.

There will be no more Selection Sundays like this one for the senior and in this moment, Casey enjoyed every last second until Harvard was awarded the 12th seed. When the matchup with No. 5 Cincinnati was announced, the Medway native jumped out of his chair before dancing for the CBS camera.

Last year, following a cheating scandal in his Government 1310 class, Casey watched the selection show from afar. He rejoined the team this season with a new hunger, and plans on enjoying every last moment with a program that he helped elevate.

“It’s incredibly special to me,” Casey said. “Being a hometown guy, going through what I went through with all the government stuff, and coming back to finish something that I came here to start has meant a lot to me. This season has been special.”

Thursday’s game will mark Harvard’s third straight appearance in the NCAA tournament. The basketball culture here was drastically different before Casey committed in February 2009. Before that, the Crimson’s only NCAA bid came in 1946.

Casey became Tommy Amaker’s first big-time recruit when he picked the Crimson over Vanderbilt and Stanford. Amaker’s Harvard teams went 8-22 and 14-14 before Casey arrived and the program took flight. In the senior’s four seasons, Harvard has a 96-24 record, going to two NCAA tournaments as well as the NIT and CIT.

Amaker said this last run with Casey will be a special one.

“It means the world to me because we’ve been on an amazing journey together,” Amaker said. “Kyle has been a critical key component every step of the way, starting with the recruiting area of him coming on board. Local kid, one of the better players in New England and one of the more popular if not the most popular player in New England.

“To have him to want to come to Harvard, attract other players and see the journey we’ve been on and the twist and turns, some amazing moments, I couldn’t be prouder of him.”