Game Preview: Yale at Columbia

Meiko Lyles was en fuego Friday night at Levien. He'll look to continue the hot streak Saturday against Yale. (Photo Credit: gocolumbialions.com)

Yale vs. Columbia usually provides fans with a good show. Sometimes the games are meaningful, other times they are for nothing more than bragging rights among two teams separated by a 15 dollar Metro-North ticket which usually leads to a good crowd. This one does mean something. Despite the overtime loss in Ithaca, the Bulldogs are within two games of first place with Harvard still on the schedule one more time.

The Bulldogs are coming off last weekend”s sweep of Penn and Princeton up in New Haven, in which Yale was able to pull away from Penn in a 40 minute dogfight, as they held Penn scoreless in the last 5 minutes, winning the game with defense down the stretch, much like they did in their first league win against Brown.  Mangano had 23 against Penn and 20 against Princeton, and Yale will continue to run their offense through their star big man. He continues to provide a nightmare matchup for most teams, often drawing multiple defenders and really forces a team to commit to the glass. Michael Grace played significant minutes against Penn, scoring 11 points in a game where the Bulldogs needed their guards to step up and try to match Zack Rosen. He added 15 last night against Cornell. Yale’s guards, who struggled against Harvard and Dartmouth, will need to play well if the Bulldogs want to get some road wins this week.

Columbia’s strength is their defense as they are holding opponents to under 60 points per game, and boast a 3.1 rebounding margin against their opponents before this weekend. They should be able to match up reasonably well with the Bulldogs on the glass, as they rank second behind the Bulldogs in both offensive and defensive rebounding. Mark Cisco leads the team with 7.2 rebounds per game, and he will be called upon to help keep the Bulldogs from getting second chance points inside.

These teams played a double-overtime classic last year in Manhattan, in which Columbia trailed by 12 points with under three minutes to go, but Brian Barbour took over the game in the final minutes to force overtime, scoring 10 points down the stretch and leading a highly improbable comeback. Eventually, Yale prevailed in double OT, but Barbour’s ability to score in clutch moments was the story of the game. Since Agho went down at the beginning of the year, Barbour has really asserted himself as a scorer, leading the conference in scoring in Ivy games before this weekend. With Meiko Lyles heating up last night, sinking five threes in the first half against Brown, the multifaceted Columbia offense will look to carry the momentum of

last night”s effort into Saturday”s game against the Bulldogs.

Much like last year, I think this one comes down to the final minutes.  The Bulldogs lose another close one, as Columbia defends its home court, exacting revenge for last season”s heartbreaker.

Columbia 69, Yale 65.

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