IHO Power Poll: February 20, 2012

Keith Wright's Harvard Crimson has been the wire-to-wire #1 team in the IHO Power Poll this season. (Photo Credit: thecrimson.com)

Welcome to the eighth IHO Power Poll (based on games through 02/20/12). 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 (9-1), (23-3)- Harvard took care of business this weekend with its best back-to-back performances in a month. A depleted Brown team did not put up much of a fight on Friday night, and the next day the Crimson weathered Yale’s best shot

to pull out a 15-point victory. Keith Wright was the leader on the court, averaging 11 points and nine rebounds in just 23 minutes per game, but Harvard got standout performances from Steve Moundou-Missi (14 points off the bench against the Bears) and Brandyn Curry (a season-high 18 points against the Elis) as well. Now holding a game-and-a-half lead over the competition, the Crimson can effectively wrap up its second Ivy title in as many years if it can beat the Killer Ps next weekend at Lavietes, where Harvard now owns a 27-game winning streak. -C. River Banks

2. Penn (7-2), (15-11)- With this weekend”s exhilarating sweep at the Palestra, Penn remains just one game back in the loss column from Harvard. Rosen completely took over down the stretch against Cornell, and Coach Allen drew up a beauty to take down Columbia in OT on Saturday. With Yale”s loss on Saturday, Penn is the only team besides Harvard that controls its own destiny for the title. If Zack Rosen can lead his Quakers past scrappy Dartmouth on Friday, we”ll be treated to a championship-like atmosphere on Saturday at Lavietes. Harvard, of course, will be coming off of a rematch of their only conference defeat, with Princeton visiting Friday, so Penn should have the advantage in terms of fresh legs, though who knows based on the way Dartmouth played at the Palestra a few weeks ago. -Bruno March

3. Princeton (6-3), (15-10)- The Tigers took care of business at home this weekend, punctuated by Ian Hummer’s monster dunk over Cornell to shame the Big Red defenders and avenge Princeton’s loss earlier this year in Ivy League play. Doug Davis finally got his stroke back after a few disappointing games, shooting over 50 percent on the weekend and leading the Tigers with 20 points against Columbia. Brendan Connolly has returned to the starting lineup with mixed results, but the big man was part of the Princeton defensive effort that held Columbia’s Mark Cisco to four points and only one offensive rebound in 28 minutes. The Tigers will need an interior presence this weekend, especially on the defensive glass, when Princeton travels to Cambridge and tries to do what no other team has managed so far this season – beat Harvard in its own house. If Princeton can pull off another miraculous upset and get a little (okay, nearly impossible amounts of) help from Penn on Saturday, the Tigers will control their own Ivy League destiny. Not a likely scenario, of course, but for the first time really since the beginning of the Ivy League slate, Princeton is playing phenomenal basketball and can afford to dream impossibly big. -Spencer Gaffney

4. Yale (7-3), (17-7)- Yale had a chance to tighten the Ivy race when the Bulldogs got a second chance at Harvard on Saturday, hoping to atone for the thrashing they received the first time the two teams met. However, Yale fell behind by as many as twenty in the first half, and despite making a charge in the second half, the Elis weren’t able to erase a twenty point deficit for the second time in three games, as they did against Columbia. Still, with an impressive effort from the opening tip up in Hanover, this team continues its solid season, and if Harvard loses either of its games against Penn and Princeton, they could still play a role in determining how the Ivy title is determined, and at 7-3 are still technically still alive for the Ivy title, though that is a far-fetched thought at this point. This week, the New York schools come to town, as Yale gets home rematches against two teams they played to one point games just two weeks ago.  If Yale wants to post a ten-win conference season, this weekend will go a long way to determine that, and we should get some good games in New Haven this week as the Yale seniors play their final home games. -Von Wager

5. Cornell (5-5), (10-14)- Funny how much two games can change things. At this time last week the Red looked like a team that could finish as high as second in the league. A close loss in the Palestra and a blowout at Jadwin on Saturday have sent the Red solidly back into the bottom half though. While a .500 record in the Ancient Eight is still likely – assuming Cornell can handle Brown and Dartmouth in the coming weeks – a top half finish does not look like it”s in the cards for the Red this year. -Sam Aleinikoff

6. Columbia (3-7), (14-12)- The Lions suffered another heartbreaker at Penn on Saturday after getting blown out by Princeton. Columbia could not stop Princeton in the second half on Friday, yielding 50 points to the Tigers and falling by 11. For once, it”s the defense that is letting down Columbia. Uncharacteristically allowing 50% shooting or better on two consecutive nights is not the way to collect wins in this league. Barbour did manage to score 22 on Friday, and the Lions continue to do a nice job of being patient on offense and getting to the line. Saturday”s heartbreaker was the third consecutive defeat for Coach Smith”s troops, and the Lions need to win out to reach .500 now. The remaining schedule is pretty reasonable with a road trip to Yale and Brown, and a home weekend hosting Harvard and Dartmouth to close out the slate. -Bruno March

7. Dartmouth (1-9), (5-21)- Dartmouth picked up its annual Ivy League victory last weekend, and unsurprisingly it came at the expense of Brown. A day after a Big Green rally came up short against Yale, Dartmouth was finally able to breakthrough and close out a game, as RJ Griffin scored 10 points in the final 12 minutes to help overcome a nine-point deficit in a 58-53 win. While Griffin might have been the hero on Saturday, the star of the weekend was undoubtedly Lithuanian sensation Gabas Maldunas. The freshman scored a career-high 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against the Bulldogs, and then filled the stat sheet with eight points, nine rebounds, four blocks, and three steals against the Bears. His performance earned the Dartmouth forward his fourth Rookie of the Week honor. Now that the Big Green is in the win column, the pressure is off. Perhaps Dartmouth can steal one or two more before the season is done. -C. River Banks

8. Brown (1-9), (7-20)- Things just continue to get worse for the Bears. After getting throttled at Harvard, it looked like the Bears would hold on for win #2 and secure their spot just north of the basement in this year”s league, as they led Dartmouth by 9 in the second half on Saturday. It was not to be though, as Dartmouth clawed back and earned its first league win, pushing Brown into a last-placed tie. Before this Dartmouth game, the Bears hadn”t really been competitive in a conference game since the opener at Yale, losing by 9 or more seven straight times. Brown ranks near the nation”s bottom in a few telling statistical categories: offensive rebounding percentage, perimeter defense, free throws/field goals (meaning the Bears don”t get to the line enough), and free throw percentage. Add it all up and you get a team that ranks outside of the Top 300 in both offense and defense. With the C”s at home and the P”s on the road, it would take a pretty shocking upset to get Brown a second win in this league. -Bruno March

4 thoughts on “IHO Power Poll: February 20, 2012

  1. I would never want to bet against a team which has won 27 straight in its own house but, if any Ivy program can beat Harvard in Allston, it’s probably Princeton. The Tigers’ size and depth in the front court create problems for the Crimson. The upset in New Jersey was no fluke. The Tigers were the better team a week ago Saturday night. I have no idea if they can replicate their performance after replacing a raucous supportive Jadwin crowd with a raucous antagonistic Lavietes crowd, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

    The fact that Princeton is the first of the two P’s to visit Soldiers Field makes the Saturday night game possibly between Harvard and Penn tied in the loss column. Whether the Crimson are tied in the loss column or one ahead, we’ll see how the team responds with the Quakers looming in the rear view mirror. It will be the first real pressure game that Harvard has played all year. Will the heightened stakes raise their performance or make them skittish?

  2. While I agree that Princeton’s size and pace make them a tough match for Harvard, the Crimson will use a deeper bench and play with more speed at home. The Tigers are less athletic than their 2010/2011 team, and Harvard won last year’s game at the Lavietes Gymnasium. In any event, it should be quite a game.

  3. The key to the Tigers’win at Jadwin was their ability to run the offense efficiently, producing 28 field goals on 15 assists, including 6 from leading scorer Ian Hummer. Princeton scored 70 on a night when Doug Davis managed just 3 points on 1-6 shooting and was held without a 3 pointer for the first time since middle school. In their two starts since Harvard the Tigers have gone for 70+ both nights. If Brendan Connolly plays as well as he can and if Davis gets a hot hand the Tigers can give the Crimson a tough game. The Tigers ought not expect the same advantage at the FT line enjoyed at Jadwin. Can’t wait for this one!

  4. Thomas, don’t get me wrong. I don’t *expect* Princeton to win, I just think that they match up as well as anybody in the League. This year’s Tiger squad without Maddox and Mavraides is comfortably worse than last year’s edition, while the Crimson are improved. Harvard won easily at home a season ago, so I think we can all do the math this time around.

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