Yes, it should go a long way, perhaps all the way to determining the Ivy champion. If Yale beats Princeton at Jadwin Gym Friday, game over.
If Princeton wins, the Tigers are slightly in the driver’s seat, because Yale still has to play at Columbia after a tough trip back from Cornell, while Princeton gets Columbia at home for their second meeting.
Yale beat Princeton narrowly in January, 79-75, and it took 61 percent shooting from three and a very hot Makai Mason to accomplish that feat. It also took yet another dominant performance by Justin Sears against the Tigers, to the tune of 16 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, three blocks and three steals. Princeton is a better team today than it was on that cold night in New Haven. Frosh Devin Cannady has emerged as a legit scoring option, leading the conference in offensive rating among players using at least 20 percent of team possessions. Henry Caruso is still the most productive player on the team, but he was shut down against Columbia and the Tigers still won. Amir Bell is regaining the touch which torched Penn early and often. In the previous matchup in this series, the Tigers neutralized Yale on the offensive boards and outscored the Elis 24-3 off the bench.
Is there a key player? Yes, especially with sharpshooter Jack Montague taking leave due to “personal issues,” according to the Yale Daily News. As usual, it is Yale senior guard Nick Victor. Victor needs to stay out of foul trouble and rebound with the same tenacity which he did at Harvard last week, when he snared 12 boards in 34 minutes and added six assists. Victor is the unsung glue of this team, just as Isaac Cohen is for Columbia. After Cohen fouled out against the Tigers last Saturday, the Lions never recovered. The foul issue holds true for both Mason and Sears as well, especially since Princeton is averaging 17.5 free throw attempts on the season, if Yale (which has a 36 percent chance of beating Princeton according to KenPom) is to win at Jadwin. KenPom also has Princeton winning out the rest of the way, so the pressure is on Yale to nick the Tigers again.