IHO Power Poll: February 13, 2012

Fans stormed the floor at Jadwin Gymnasium Saturday night as Princeton knocked off previously unbeaten Harvard, keeping the league race interesting for at least one more weekend. (Photo Credit: dailyprincetonian.com)

Welcome to the seventh IHO Power Poll (based on games through 02/13/12). 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 (7-1), (21-3)- Harvard had the Ivy League all but wrapped up after winning at the Palestra on Friday. Then Saturday happened, and now it’s game on once again. The Crimson’s performance at Jadwin was very uncharacteristic. The Tigers torched Harvard’s vaunted defense for 1.11 points per possession, time after time finding easy buckets on backdoor cuts. Not only that, the Crimson’s normally reliable free-throw shooting allowed the game to slip away, as Kyle Casey missed four of five from the stripe (including the front end of a one-and-one) to watch a tie game turn into a five point deficit. Harvard will have a chance to regroup with its next four games at home, but, thanks to its 23rd straight loss at Princeton, the Crimson is no longer the only team that controls its own destiny. -C. River Banks

2. Penn (5-2), (13-11)- The Quakers had a pretty disappointing weekend, but remain the most dangerous contender in the top tier thanks to a favorable finishing schedule with the New York teams and Southern New England teams coming to the Palestra. The much anticipated visit from Harvard on Friday night was an ugly affair with Penn executing its defensive game plan as well as the Quakers could hope with Rivard, Wright and Curry going 1-15 from the field. Penn’s offense was the culprit though, as Bernardini was completely shut down and Rosen missed shots that Rosen doesn’t tend to miss– going 6 for 21. The 56-50 final left the Quakers two back on Saturday morning. The beauty of this league though, is how things can completely change in the course of about 26 hours. They did twice this weekend with Penn left for dead after the Harvard loss. On Saturday night, Zack Rosen knocked down a deep, fading three with three seconds left against Dartmouth to break a 55-55 tie and keep Penn alive in the league. Then Princeton beat Harvard and it's all on the table again. The Quakers control their own destiny, needing to TCOB at home and win at Harvard now. -Bruno March

3. Yale (6-2), (16-6)- What a rollercoaster weekend for the Bulldogs. After an absolutely devastating one-point loss in overtime up in Ithaca, Yale—facing a 51-30 deficit with less than 12 to play—somehow came back against Columbia in heroic fashion Saturday night to salvage what could have been a disastrous weekend against the C’s. With Princeton’s upset of Harvard, Yale’s destiny still remains in its own hands. Some key notes from the weekend:

1) Coach Jones appears to have finally settled upon a rotation, with forward Brandon Sherrod and forward-guard Jesse Pritchard—both of whom played at least 15 minutes in each of the games this weekend—having emerged as the final pieces of what now appears to be a 7-man rotation for Yale.  Yale’s starters are logging heavy minutes, however, and Yale’s lack of depth–19 combined bench points all weekend–remains a concern.

2) Yale’s guards, who have struggled to handle the ball this year, did an excellent job of minimizing turnovers this weekend. Mike Grace (who rolled his ankle vs. Columbia, but should be back by this weekend) and Austin Morgan combined for only 8 turnovers against Cornell and Columbia.

3) It is becoming increasingly clear that this offense must run through captain Reggie Willhite for it to have any success. Willhite led the team in assists in both games, and—during Yale’s remarkable comeback run against Columbia—he was responsible for, either by scoring or assisting, Yale’s final 12 points.

Yale continues its road trip this weekend, traveling up to lowly Dartmouth on Friday and back down to Harvard on Saturday. Should Yale seek any chance of donning its dancing shoes for the first time since 1962, both of these games are must-wins. -Blue Ivy Ball

4. Princeton (4-3), (13-10)-  A massive, court-storming upset against a Top 25 team. Twenty-three in a row against Harvard at home. Mitch Henderson's first signature Ivy League win as a head coach. Pick your story line. But any way you slice it, the weekend belonged to Princeton basketball, wh0 shocked the Crimson at Jadwin Gym and proved to the rest of the league that Harvard isn't invincible.

Princeton moves to 4-3 on the year with the victory after notching a too-close-for-comfort win against Dartmouth (who nearly upset Penn the next night) – the first pair of back-to-back Ivy League wins for the Tigers all season. Ian Hummer was huge against Harvard, making up for his 0-11 from the floor performance the night before. Let the Tigers enjoy their upset for a few hours. But with Monday morning comes the question of whether Saturday night's upset is destined to be the highlight of the year for this incarnation of the Princeton squad or if the Tigers have enough daylight to make a run for Ivy League relevancy. Princeton plays five of its last seven games at home. -Spencer Gaffney

 5. Cornell (5-3), (10-12)- These Ivy polls get tougher and tougher every week. The difference between the middle of the pack Ivy teams is so small. Cornell will once again fall in the 5th place slot, but has played good enough basketball to be ranked as high as 3rd. Chris Wroblewski has finally found his touch. Johnny Gray has emerged as a go-to scorer. The two former have resulted in Drew Ferry seeing more open looks than he is used to. Even if this all keeps up, the Big Red probably won't win the Ivy title in 2012, but what we can decisively conclude from this past weekend is no team will overlook Cornell. We will see if the Red is for real as it takes its act to the road next week, where it has struggled all season.  A victory at Penn or Princeton should be enough to catapult Cornell into the top half of the standings. -Jake Mastbaum

6. Columbia (3-5), (14-10)- Columbia played 68 minutes of top-tier basketball this weekend, giving the Lions a 47 advantage on the visiting Bears and Elis combined. Columbia blew out Brown 86-60. Lyles shot the lights out, Cisco cleaned up the boards, and Barbour was every bit the floor general that he is capable of being. If possible, the Lions looked even better through the first three quarters of Saturday's game against the Elis. Then, in the final 12 minutes, something changed and the Lions unraveled, unable to handle Yale's pressure and unable to stop Reggie Willhite. The Bulldogs went on a 29-7 run in the game’s final quarter, holding the Lions scoreless for the final 4:20. The result was a stunning loss for Columbia, who had looked poised to reach .500 in league play for the first time this season. All of Columbia’s five losses have come by five points or less. The Lions are a young team, so they have time to get over this hump, but that doesn’t make these losses hurt any less right now. The road gets no easier for the Lions who now head to Princeton and Penn. -Bruno March

7. Brown (1-7), (7-18) Point guard Sean McGonagill sustained a concussion against Penn two weekends ago that kept him out of the lineup against Columbia and Cornell. The result was a Brown team that was not able to keep up with opposing backcourts or defend the perimeter, as Cornell and Columbia both shot the ball over 50% from three this weekend. The Bears were blown out at Columbia, stuck with a short bench in New York for the second straight year. At Ithaca, Brown hung around for a while, closing within 6 in the final minutes on the wings of a hot shooting night from Matt Sullivan, but the final result was never truly in doubt. The unfortunate truth for the Bears is that, given the depth of the league this year, the only game left that they have a good shot of winning is next weekend at Dartmouth, and even then, they’ll be underdogs. Fans of Bruno should take solace in the promising squad coming together for 2012-13 when Halpern returns, Maia makes his debut, and McGonagill gets a little space as opponents are forced to attend to other weapons. -Bruno March

8. Dartmouth (0-8), (4-20)

This weekend brought (what else) more grisly results for the Big Green. Dartmouth jumped out to an 11-1 lead in the first eight minutes against Princeton, but the Tigers clawed back within 2 by halftime and mauled the Big Green in the second half to win by 12.  The next night was little better. After trailing by as many as 13 in the second half, Dartmouth fought all the way back to tie at 55 with 23

seconds left before Zack Rosen delivered a dagger three with three seconds remaining. Freshman Jvonte Brooks was a stud in both games with 11 points and 13 rebounds, then 18 points and 10 rebounds, but it was all for naught. We’ve been saying all along that it’s a matter of time before the Big Green break through, but it’s running out of chances. Dartmouth's last best shot will be this Saturday when Brown comes to Hanover. -C. River Banks

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1 thought on “IHO Power Poll: February 13, 2012

  1. Princeton’s upset win over Harvard is, after all, just that: an upset. Of the three teams in control of their own destiny, the Crimson have a rather clear advantage having beaten both Yale and Penn on the road. The Yale game was an inexplicable blowout, a 30 point debacle that wasn’t that close. The real significance of the Tiger win on Saturday may be for Mitch Henderson, a statement to himself and to his team: “I can do this, and if you pay attention, you can, too.” The Tigers have a real shot to play in the post-season, something that seemed out of reach after a shaky start to the season. The rematch in Cambridge is a huge opportunity for Henderson’s team, even if it may have no real impact on the Ivy standings.

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