The Ivies are opening their seasons tonight and tomorrow night, so let’s just commence with the game previews already.
The Teams: Yale (0-0) at Quinnipiac (0-0), Friday, 5:30 p.m.
The Skinny: Quinnipiac returns several key pieces from last year’s Bobcats squad that won seven of eight games in February and carried that momentum into a 69-68 CIT opening-round loss to Yale. Still, two of Quinnipiac’s top three scorers from a season ago – Ike Azotam and Umar Shannon – have graduated, leaving senior guard Zaid Hearst to help fill their void. Expect Yale to win this grudge match as Quinnipiac’s offense searches for its identity in its very first game of the season.
The Teams: MIT (0-0) at No. 25 Harvard (0-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Skinny: Division III at nationally ranked Division I, anyone? Last season, Harvard blasted MIT, 79-37, so even though MIT returns its top two scorers in senior forwards Matt Redfield and Andrew Acker, the Crimson will win their 10th straight home opener tonight.
The Teams: Columbia (0-0) at Stony Brook (0-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Skinny: Stony Brook will unveil the brand new, 4,000-seat Island Federal Credit Union Arena tonight. How exciting. What’s more interesting is that the Seawolves were picked to win the America East. What’s most intriguing of all is seeing how smoothly Maodo Lo takes the reins offensively now that Alex Rosenberg has peaced out for this season. Defending America East Player of the Year Jameel Warney is back for Stony Brook, and so is athletic junior guard Carson Puriefoy. An outstanding early season test for the Lions.
The Teams: Rider (0-0) at Princeton (0-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Skinny: Ladies and gentlemen, the Battle of Route 206. Rider was picked just seventh in the MAAC preseason poll and loses its top two scorers and rebounders from last season, Anthony Myles and Daniel Stewart. Rider can can threes, but its spotty defense from last season is likely to carry over into 2014-15. Princeton should win its season opener.
The Teams: Cornell (0-0) at George Mason (0-0), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
The Skinny: Shonn Miller’s back! On the other side, George Mason is coming to terms with bottom-dweller status too, having finished next to last in the A-10 last season, its first in the conference, and being picked 13th out of 14 teams in the league’s preseason poll. So … it’s an ugly matchup. The departures of guards Sherrod Wright and Bryon Allen, who combined to score 31 points per contest a season ago, will hurt the Patriots. They’ll win anyway.
The Teams: St. Peter’s (0-0) at Brown (0-0), Friday, 8:00 p.m.
The Skinny: Gotta love the Peacocks, if only for their nickname. They return 10 players from last season’s squad that won six of its last eight regular season games and are led by All-MAAC third-teamer senior forward Marvin Dominique. Still, I like the Bears in this matchup.
The Teams: Delaware State (0-0) at Penn (0-0), Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
The Skinny: And so Penn’s no-name schedule begins. The Hornets notched just 61.6 points per game last season, 10th-lowest in all of Division I. Delaware State’s 942 rebounds last season were 18th-lowest in Division I too, which would be more reassuring for the Quakers if their rebound total wasn’t 17th-lowest. Still, this game is legitimately intriguing as it provides an opportunity to see Penn’s deep six-man freshman class in regular season action for the first time. Penn has a very real chance to post a season-opening win here.
The Teams: Dartmouth (0-0) at St. Bonaventure (0-0), Saturday, 7 p.m.
The Skinny: The Bonnies really know how to pick their Ivy opponents, don’t they? Last season, they waxed Division 9000 Cornell, 81-57, and this season, they get Dartmouth. But the Bonnies are much greener than the Big Green, with six players making their collegiate debuts after the team lost three seniors to graduation who all had at least 90 career games of experience. Jury’s obviously out on both of these clubs, but don’t be shocked if Dartmouth makes a game of this, especially if Alex Mitola gets hot.