Several weeks ago, I was inspired by The Ancient Quaker’s epic power poll. If the AQ can create a ranking of the Ivy basketball teams so detached from Planet Earth that Penn would come in at No. 1, why couldn’t I do the same?
Behold, then: a totally scientific and rational power poll, with just three weekends left in the season.
I will follow the guideline established by the AQ from his power rankings: “I’ve decided to rank the teams as I see them which of course has nothing to do with reality.”
1. Columbia (3-5) If you have ever talked to me for more than 12 seconds, you know how much I love this team. So I will not belabor the point, other than to say that the only way this team could lose the number one spot would be if Kyle Smith and Maodo Lo murdered Roar-ee the Lion in cold blood. (Even then, I might find a way to forgive them.)
2. Brown (2-6) Brown is the only other Ivy team I have positive feelings about. Some of these are basketball-related. For example, it’s kind of fun to watch Cedric Kuakumensah do his thing, and Rafael Maia is probably the league’s best Brazilian player. More importantly, Sean McGonagill and Tucker Halpern have graduated, which purged a good number of horrible memories from my mind.
In the non-basketball category: my sister goes to school here and watches this team play on a regular basis. I like my sister, so all things being equal I prefer Brown win a game or two. They also have the friendliest band of all the Ivy schools.
3. Dartmouth (2-6) I often forget that Dartmouth has a basketball team.
(Unfortunately, I think the Lions made the same mistake last weekend.)
4. Yale (7-1) Yale has earned my grudging respect over the years. James Jones is a great coach, and Justin Sears is a righteously fun player to watch. The last five years have given us a number of great Columbia-Yale matchups — including a dramatic finish in Levien this year and a CIT quarterfinal last year — most of which have been hard-fought contests. While I wouldn’t say I’m actively rooting for Yale, a Bulldog championship would be much more palatable than the title returning to Cambridge. It would also enable us to keep making Whiffenpoof jokes about Brandon Sherrod, which is my personal favorite pastime.
t-7. Penn (2-5) Doing play-by-play commentary for WKCR Sports last year, I had the chance to get acquainted with each school’s peculiarities in the game notes. None, though, were more peculiar than Penn’s, which included a strong command to broadcasters regarding the name of the school.
“The first time you mention us on-air, please use our full name — the University of Pennsylvania. After that, we ask that you refer to us simply as Penn. We would ask that you refrain from calling us Pennsylvania at any time.”
On the bright side, Pennsylvania’s basketball team fluctuates between “just awful” and “utterly embarrassing” on a near-weekly basis, so there’s nowhere to go but up! Also, Tony Hicks made it through the game at Levien this year without being ejected, though the Pennsylvania guard did pick up a flagrant foul (look at that effort!). I would also like to thank Pennsylvania for letting Al Bagnoli retire.
t-7. Princeton (4-3) Princeton is located in New Jersey, which is ordinarily enough to send them right to the bottom of this ranking. They are redeemed thanks to two factors. One, the Tigers play their home games in the Death Star, which seems like it should be illegal.
The background tends to make opponents look like they graduated from the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy — visiting foes couldn’t hit Luke Skywalker with a basketball if he was standing right in front of them.
Also, thanks to Hans Brase and Spencer Weisz, the Tigers have the most players on their team who could also be villains in a Die Hard movie. (As discussed in this week’s On The Vine!)
t-7. Cornell (4-4) A cold, desolate wasteland. Admittedly, that currently describes most of the northeast this weekend, but Cornell is the only Ivy school I visited where I literally feared for my life. Their team, as outlined by Jake Mastbaum, plays some massively ugly basketball. And Robert Hatter is probably the most annoying player in the league, mostly because he flops more often than a pair of flip flops.
8. Harvard (7-1)
(Really, Harvard Athletics? #SCTopTen? Here’s a hint — most SportsCenter Top Ten highlights do not start with your team letting Jeff Coby have infinite time and space to drain a game-tying three-pointer.)
Seriously, I can’t stand anything about the Harvard basketball program. For their crimes, they must occupy the basement of this power poll; I wish them nothing but ill for the remainder of this Ivy season.