Let”s get right to it here. Penn isn”t losing this game. The Quakers are coming off of a frustrating loss at Yale last night, their first of the conference season, and they are going to be angry and determined. Meanwhile, Brown got throttled by a mediocre Princeton team, and despite what the Cornell Basketball Blogger claims, the Bears are far and away the Ivy team most devastated by injury and other absences. Yes, last year”s leading scorer and All-Ivy player Tucker Halpern and Rookie of the Year frontrunner Rafael Maia are out for the season, but now the already-razor thin Bears bench is taking a hit. According to Scott Cordeschi at GoLocalProv, Freshman Longji Yiljep is out for the season with a toe injury, junior Patrick Donnelly is out for the season with a hip injury, freshman Jon Schmidt has an eye injury, Jean Harris can”t play due to the flu, and Steven Albrecht is experiencing those pesky back problems. It”s honestly a war zone down in Providence, and given the lack of depth the Bears had to begin with, it”s a wonder that Brown is competing as well as they are in the league this year.
So, yes, Penn is going to win this game barring a miracle. Zack Rosen will have the Quakers re-focused and don”t expect them to let up on the gas pedal, as Penn had Yale on the ropes last night at 53-50 with a chance to put the game away, but were unable to do so. Yale responded with a Mangano three, a Morgan layup, and big rebounds and free throws down the stretch, while Penn forced up threes and rushed important possessions in the final minutes. Tonight, the Quakers will be dealing with Brown”s big men Andrew McCarthy and Tyler Ponticelli. McCarthy has been playing very well of late, but doesn”t keep people out of the paint the way Mangano can. Tyler Ponticelli was very solid last night for the Bears, scoring 13 points on 6-9 shooting, but he”s not the type of player who can create his own points, so his production is dependent on the penetration of the Bears” backcourt. Sophormore forward Dockery Walker will come off the bench, but is prone to getting in foul trouble (7.5 fouls per 40 minutes), though he does have the potential for a big game with his tremendous athleticism.
The Quakers have a big advantage in the backcourt and on the wing. Rosen versus McGonagill should be a fun matchup to watch tonight, and the Penn senior is at his best when he”s exploiting holes in the defense and finding the open man for the open look. Brown has the worst defense in the league and no bench, so look for Penn to push the pace and Rosen to have a monster night.
Bernardini went 2-13 from the field against Yale, a rare off night for the sharpshooter; he”ll get a lot of open looks tonight and the law of averages suggests that he will knock them down at a much higher rate. Belcore has been very impressive of late and he”ll be able to get to the rack tonight too.
Brown”s only chance, as usual, is if McGonagill and Albrecht strike gold from deep, McCarthy dominates the offensive boards against Brooks, and Dockery Walker stays on the court and out of foul trouble. With a hungry Penn squad eager to get back in the winning column before next Friday”s visit from Harvard at the Palestra, and the injury bug continuing to bite the Bears, it”s just not happening.
Penn 78, Brown 60.