Welcome to the fourth IHO Power Poll (based on games through 01/23/12). 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 (2-0), (16-2)- Harvard’s 54-38 win in Hanover, which moved the Crimson into a tie for first place, might not have been the most impressive performance of the week, but it did nothing to dispel the notion that Harvard is still the team to beat. The starting five managed a paltry 22 points against the Big Green, but what could have been a dire situation on the road was actually a comfortable blowout thanks to the bench’s performance. Freshman Steve Moundou-Missi continued his excellent play of late with nine points and four rebounds, and guards Corbin Miller and Christian Webster—both returning from injury—chipped in 13 and eight points on a combined eight of 10 shooting (five of seven from deep). The Crimson’s relatively light stretch comes to an end next weekend, as the stage is set for a clash of undefeated squads at Payne Whitney Gymnasium, the site of two crushing losses for Harvard a season ago. –C. River Banks
2. Penn (2-0), (10-9)- Penn stays in the two spot thanks to an impressive 84-80 Big Five victory over St. Joe”s. The Quakers put together a dominating offensive performance and led by as many as 23 in the second half before the Hawks mounted a furious comeback. Zack Rosen knocked down two free throws with one second on the clock to clinch the win for Penn after St. Joe”s had gotten within two. Bernardini led the way with 24 points on 10-14 shooting, while Rosen dumped in 16 and 8 assists. The senior point guard also had six turnovers. Belcore and Cartwright each chipped in 12 for the undersized Quakers. Next up is a monster matchup at the Palestra against hated Princeton next Monday night. That”s a must-win for Princeton and a potential statement game for Penn. -Bruno March
3. Yale (2-0), (12-4)- That’s more like it. The narrative that played out between Yale and Brown in Providence on Saturday was more along the lines of what you would expect from these two teams. Unlike in the first outing, in which the Bulldog’s first lead came with 59 seconds to play, Yale was able to dictate the flow of the game more and led for the final 19:45 of play. Yale destroyed Brown on the glass, outrebounding the Bears 44-27 behind 11 from Mangano. Contrast this with the first meeting in which Brown actually outrebounded the Bulldogs by a 26-24 margin, and it becomes clear why this win was much more comfortable. Furthermore, Brown—unlike in the first meeting—was dreadful from the field. While they took more threes than they took last game, they ended up hitting four fewer of them. In the two Yale games, Yale held Brown”s bigs to just 25 of 124 points. Yale sophomore Jesse Pritchard, who logged only 6 minutes in the first of these two meetings, led all bench players with 21 minutes played and offered the Bulldogs some extremely efficient play. He had 9 pts and 8 rbs, going 4-6 from the field.
Heading into the pivotal matchup against #24 Harvard at John J. Lee on
Friday night, Yale should be riding high. They are coming off back-to-back wins in which three players recorded double figures in scoring (Mangano, Willhite, Morgan both times). However, points may be harder to come by on Friday, as Harvard plays as slowly as almost anyone in the country and defends as well, too. -Blue Ivy Ball
4. Princeton (1-1), (10-8)- The Princeton squad was out of action this week thanks to the school’s delightfully anachronistic exam schedule. But the rest of the basketball world marched on in the Tigers’ absence, giving us new fodder against which to interpret Princeton’s season thus far. Which can only mean one thing… That’s right! The bye week means it’s time to play By The Transitive Property, the game where we ignore math and common sense and instead use the wins and losses of the teams Princeton has played in order to live vicariously through them on the court.
In By The Transitive Property: ACC Edition, Princeton beat Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium to end the Blue Devils’ 45-game home win streak, only a week after knocking off pre-season number one UNC. All right, all right, Florida State was technically the team pulling off those stunning upsets. But since Princeton beat Florida State earlier this season, the Seminoles hot streak still feels like a win (and the Tigers” RPI is up to #108.)
The real problem is trying to sort out By The Transitive Property: Ivy League. What does it mean if Columbia beats Cornell, which beat Princeton, which beat Columbia? It means that this week a burgeoning Ivy League aristocracy emerged, with three undefeated squads and four teams with two losses already. Princeton, at 1-1, sits uncomfortably in the middle. When the Tigers come back from break, can they hang with the big boys, or are they doomed to spend their season scuffling with the bottom half of the league? -Spencer Gaffney
5. Columbia (1-2), (12-7)- The Lions got a much-needed victory in the home half of the series with travel partner Cornell, 61-56. It was a game in which Columbia looked like the more comfortable squad, though they struggled to handle some intense full-court pressure from the Big Red down the stretch. Mark Cisco played the best game of his career, dropping 18 points and grabbing 20 rebounds. His impact on the game went beyond the stat sheet though, as his mere presence in the lane on defense caused a lot of trouble around the basket for Cornell. It was a battle to control tempo, as Cornell tried to get out and run with its athletic freshmen leading the charge, while Columbia looked to slow it down and work it inside to Cisco and back out to Barbour and Lyles. In the end, Columbia won that battle, and after draining some clutch free throws, the Lions won the game. The victory puts Columbia back at the top of the bottom half of our poll. They”ll need to jeux de cartes sweep the Red in Ithaca on Saturday if they want a chance to compete in the top half. Cisco won”t be able to play 36 minutes again and the Red will be keying in on the dangerous Columbia backcourt, so the Lions may have to get more production out of the freshmen, Osetkowski and Rosenberg. -Bruno March
6. Cornell (1-2), (6-11)- Cornell dropped its only matchup of the week at Columbia, 61-56. Unfortunately for Cornell fans, we really didn”t learn too much about the Big Red in this contest. We knew Cornell was a middle of the pack team. Columbia is right there with Cornell, fighting for a spot in the top half of the league. On the road, the Lions present a tough match-up for the Red. Looking into this game, there really isn”t much to over-analyze. Cornell was burned by Mark Cisco. The junior center had a career night, posting 18 points and 20 rebounds. We knew Cornell was susceptible to being exposed by a big man. Chris Wroblewski struggled from the field, shooting 3-13 from the floor and 0-7 from long range. We knew the senior guard was having a tough season shooting the basketball. Shonn Miller was shut out from the floor, shooting 0-4 from the field. We knew the freshman stud would inevitably show some inconsistent play, especially on the road. The point is that there was nothing out of the ordinary for Cornell. How the team responds in a week against the same Columbia team, in Newman Arena, will be much more telling than this matchup in New York City. If Cornell is the team we think it is, that is a game that should be won. -Jake Mastbaum
t-7. Brown (0-2), (6-13)- Brown got back in the win column Monday night with a 67-60 victory at Bryant, running its in-state record to 2-1 on the season. That”ll get them back into a tie with Dartmouth in this poll, after the Big Green forgot to show up in front of a rare sold out crowd in Hanover on Saturday. The Bears have enough weapons in McGonagill, Albrecht, and McCarthy (who has come on strong as of late) to compete if they can put it all together in one game. Brown proved that they aren”t going to lay down for anyone this year in two close losses to a more talented Yale team. It”s been said before, but this team shoots the deep ball pretty well. The dominant strategy for the Bears is going to be launching threes and hoping to get hot. The problem continues to be the thinness of the frontcourt. McCarthy”s put up some good numbers lately, but Walker”s done close to nothing and Ponticelli isn”t a scorer. The result has been that 39% of the Bears shot attempts have come from behind the three-point line. Only eight teams in the country shoot threes at a higher rate. Believe it or not, the Bears are actually playing slightly better defense than last year. The offense is just significantly worse (over 10 points per 100 possessions worse [100.3 in 2011, 90.0 in 2011]). It would go a long way for the Bears to get that all-important first league win in Providence on Friday night. Dartmouth comes to town and, after this, they may not be favored again this year. -Bruno March
t-7. Dartmouth (0-2), (4-14)- The loss to Harvard sunk Dartmouth to a tie with Brown for last place in the Ivy League. By virtue of the two 16-point defeats to the Crimson, it can be argued that the Big Green belongs in the cellar of the Power Poll by itself. While the future is obviously bright for this young squad, its lack of offensive firepower will make beating any Ancient Eight foe exceedingly difficult. Some numbers from Saturday: Dartmouth averaged .7 points per possession; just three Big Green players scored in the first half, and a whopping four scored in the second; 38 points is the lowest scoring output by any Ivy (non-conference included) since Cornell beat the Big Green in 2010. This abysmal production was not so much due to an off shooting night as it is endemic to a stagnant offense (ranked 317th out of 345 by Pomeroy) that relies too often on isolation scoring. Of course, the grass is not too much greener in Providence. To the amusement (or schadenfreude) of Ivy observers, this battle for inferiority will be temporarily settled next week when Dartmouth visits Brown. -C. River Banks