Welcome to the second IHO Power Poll (based on games through 01/08/12). Please note that these rankings are based off of our best guesses of how the Ivy League picture will sort itself out. We always love to hear your gripes and whines in the comments below.
1. Harvard (13-2), (1-0)- Harvard is still the class of the league, even though the Crimson have cooled off a bit since the rousing New Year's comeback victory over St. Joe's. A loss to lowly Fordham and 32 minutes of uninspiring ball against Dartmouth has brought this squad back to the pack a bit. A willingness to rely on the three when Casey and Wright are denied the ball in a zone has proved dangerous for the Cantabs, who surely will be confronted with more of the same going forward. The Fordham loss could be good for Harvard though, as any expectations of running through the league unscathed are a bit far-fetched. The league is deeper than ESPN and other major media sources have been letting on and with the Friday-Saturday grind of the season, players will inevitably get dinged up and legs will get tired. Harvard should still win the league, but chances are they'll be doing it with two or three losses in a conference where everyone is gunning for them.
2. Princeton (9-7), (0-0)- Princeton grabs the two spot from Yale behind that Rutgers win that just keeps looking better and better and the FSU triple-OT road victory. Princeton looks like a different team from the group of guys that went out and laid stinkers against Elon and Morehead State back in November. The Tigers did an admirable job on a long, competitive seven-game road trip (5-2), which is good because they begin conference season with five more away from Jadwin. Hummer, Davis, and Bray are shouldering a heavy load right now with all three playing over 80% of minutes. The Tigers are also relying heavily on the three ball still, and given that they shoot it at an average rate (34.8%), Princeton needs to continue to control the tempo and play the stingy, lockdown defense that has been so vital to their success lately.
3. Yale (10-4), (0-0)- The Bulldogs fall to the three slot as a result of missed opportunities. Yale had a big chance to get a major conference victory in their sojourn down south, but came up empty-handed in a one-point loss at Wake Forest, followed by a rout in Gainesville. Though they returned home and took care of business against Holy Cross and D-3 St. Joseph's of Long Island (giving up 86 points to a program playing its first D-I opponent ever), the Bulldogs are still a relative unknown. Yale has ZERO top 150 wins according to Pomeroy and eked out close victories against URI (#253), Sacred Heart (#243), and Hartford (#328), though all were on the road to their credit. We know the talent is there–Mangano has four monster double-doubles in Yale's last four games while Morgan is shooting the three ball as well as anyone (44% on the season)– so that is why Yale stays ahead of the rest of the pack. The Elis will take two from Brown before they'll try to hold court against Harvard on January 27th in New Haven.
4. Penn (7-8), (0-0)- While Mangano has started his charge for POY, Zack Rosen remains the clubhouse leader. The Quakers' main man continues to do it all, playing over 93% of his team's minutes. Rosen can be a scorer by slashing to the hoop or shooting the three, but his ability to set up his teammates is what gives Penn the chance to compete near the top of the league. Rosen assists over 38% of his teammates' made field goals when he is on the court. That rate puts him in the nation's top 20 in that category, and fittingly, he's also among the 20 semifinalists for the Bob Cousy award given to the nation's top point guard. Besides Rosen, Bernardini has been on a hot shooting streak. Oddly enough, Zack and Tyler are both 38-88 (43%) from beyond the arc this year. When the two veteran Quaker snipers are on with one driving and the other dishing, this offense is tough to stop. On the other hand, Cartwright has been disappointing so far, shooting under 29% from three, and serious holes exist in the paint. Penn is going to have some very rough front-court matchup problems with about half of the league.
5. Columbia (11-5), (0-0)- Columbia's Kyle Smith has proved to be a master of adaptation. After Agho went down, Smith re-assessed his team's strengths, slowed things down and tightened up the defense. He has shown no fear in playing his freshmen, though he was left with little choice, and Rosenberg and Osetkowski have grown up quickly to reward the vote of confidence. Meiko Lyles has stepped up to take many of Agho's shots and Lyles has been spot-on, knocking down more than 46% of his threes. Barbour is the glue that holds this team together at the point, while Cisco has shown great strength and good footwork down low. Columbia's success thus far is most directly a result of their defense and coaching though. The Lions boast the league's second-best defense, allowing only .954 points per possession (83rd in the nation). In four of their last six wins, they have been tied or trailing at the half. Coach Smith has shown himself to have a great eye for making adjustments, ensuring that Cisco gets more touches inside when the situation calls for it, and Lyles gets a deep look off a Barbour dish when defenses start to collapse. Columbia is solid, no doubt about it anymore– but if they want to be considered a contender, they can prove it this weekend at Levien against the P's.
6. Cornell (5-9), (0-0)- The fact that Cornell is sixth in this power poll says a lot about the depth in this year's league. I wouldn't be too surprised if Cornell split with Yale or Princeton. A good shooting game from Wroblewski (he should be coming around soon, right?) and some sustained floor time for Chemerinski should keep the Big Red in any contest remaining on their slate. Cornell threatened without those factors in close losses on the road against Illinois and Penn St. in the last few weeks (Little Ski and Big Ski did both play well in the loss at Maryland). The following front-court issue is most pressing: Eitan Chemerinski is averaging 8.3 fouls per 40 minutes. It doesn't take a math major to understand why this needs to change as Chemerinski is shooting 65% on the year for the Red. In his absence, Josh Figini has done an admirable job, but Cornell is most versatile and dangerous when Chemerinski is available. Meanwhile, the freshmen have been taking advantage of their opportunities with Shonn Miller (3) and Galal Cancer (1) grabbing four combined Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards in ten weeks. And I'd be remiss if I did not mention Drew Ferry, perhaps the least-talked about great shooter in the league (44% from three). Cornell has been competitive with quality opponents and there's reason to be encouraged, but anything beyond .500 may be asking too much from this young squad.
7. Dartmouth (3-13), (0-1)- And the Big Green finally move out of the basement in the midst of a six-game losing streak. How does that work, you ask? Well, Dartmouth knocked off Elon the day after our last Power Poll, and they've been competitive in every game since, eventually blowing leads left and right, but hanging in there and taking it to Harvard on the road for three quarters this past weekend. When your competition for the 7 spot is freefalling Brown, it doesn't take too much to avoid the cellar. Anyway, Lithuanian freshman Gabas Maldunas has been great so far, dominant on the boards and fearless on offense. The upperclassmen, Griffin, Rufful, and Trotter, have hung in there, unable to all put together a good game simultaneously, but contributing with outside shooting and defense. Freshmen Jvonte Brooks and John Golden have been significant physical presences, grabbing boards and getting to the line. Dartmouth showed against Harvard that teams will need to take them seriously to come away with a win this year.
8. Brown (5-10), (0-0)- The Bears are struggling. They've lost by 9 or more to their last three opponents, all 200 in the Pomeroy rankings. They have limited size inside, though Andrew McCarthy has done a good job with all the minutes he has earned, and very few natural scorers. Sean McGonagill is one of the league's best point guards, but he has woefully few options to whom he can dish the ball. How bad are things in Providence? The Bears started a football player in their last game against American, Tellef Lundevall, who wasn't even on the team a few weeks ago. Lundevall went 1-6 for 2 points in a 70-61 loss that was not as close as the final score. The guard situation is not that bad, but with Tucker Halpern out for the season at the 3 and freshman center Rafael Maia ineligible, the Bears have no size and not much of an inside-out game to free up their chief strength, outside shooting. McGonagill, Stephen Albrecht, Jean Harris, and Matt Sullivan are all capable of catching fire on the outside though, and that will most likely be the Bears' best shot at getting some victories this year. Brown fans would be advised to look ahead to 2012-2013 when the Bears will reload and be vastly improved with a real shot at turning the tables on an unsuspecting league.