January 30 is a bit early for one of the three top most significant Ivy games of the year. But here it is. Princeton at Yale.
Last year, Yale beat Princeton on the road, 81-73, and smothered the Tigers at home in February, 81-60. Justin Sears had a total of 53 points on 19-for-26 shooting. Princeton simply had no one to contain him.
This year’s dynamic should be similar. Princeton has no one to stop Sears or Sherrod off the boards. The Tigers, though, are more efficient this season, spreading the floor better and shooting the three with abandon. Just ask No. 15 Miami, which got a scare from the Tigers in Coral Gables last month.
Henry Caruso is averaging 16.2 points per game for the Tigers and is shooting an outstanding 57.3 percent from the floor. Amir Bell and Spencer Weisz can also drill it from anywhere and are both probably even better at dishing out assists. Bell has a 42 to 17 assist- to-turnover ratio, topped among all Ivies only by Weisz, who boasts an assist-to-turnover ratio of 57 to 16.
If Princeton is hitting early, this should be an interesting matchup before a predicted large crowd at the John Lee Amphitheater.
Yale handled Penn easily last night, 81-58, and Princeton won easily over Brown, 83-59. Sherrod has not missed a shot from the field in two games, building a 16-for-16 clip. Yale’s free throw shooting has been more suspect than Princeton’s, though. The Tigers are shooting a conference-high 80.8 percent from the charity stripe in league play, while the Elis rank just sixth in that category at 60.7 percent.
Penn coach Steve Donahue, whose Quakers’ most recent two league games have come against Yale and Princeton, called both teams mentally tough and predicted a close contest Saturday night.
Look for Yale to win its eighth straight game in narrow fashion and move pivotally to 4-0 in the Ivies.