1. Yale (6-4)
Yale’s only game this past week was a 90-59 home romp over Central Connecticut State, but it was emblematic of the unexpected division of labor that’s carried Yale to arguably the top slot in the Ivy League standings. Sophomore guard Alex Copeland went 9-for-11 from two-point range to contribute 23 points along with four assists in 30 minutes, while freshman guard Miye Oni lit up Payne Whitney Gym with 7-for-8 shooting from three-point range en route to 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists in just 26 minutes.
Yale went 14-for-27 from long range against CCSU, reinforcing the Elis’ position as a much improved three-point shooting team compared to last season. Yale is 24th in the nation in three-point percentage at 40.2, and 50th nationwide in defensive three-point percentage. If Yale keeps winning the battle of the treys, it’ll continue surprising people all throughout the Ivy slate.
2. Princeton (4-5)
The Tigers’ future is still unwritten, but their present is rough. Henry Caruso, arguably Princeton’s best player, was reported out for the year Wednesday with a toe injury, joining Hans Brase on the out-for-the-year list. Without both against Saint Joseph’s at Jadwin Gym, Princeton faltered late again, surrendering a 64-61 lead with 3:58 to play by virtue of a 15-4 Hawks run to close out the game. Princeton shot just 10-for-31 (32.3 percent) from downtown and was not much better from two-point range (12-for-31). Senior guard Spencer Weisz shone with 11 rebounds, 10 points, eight assists, zero turnovers and two steals. If Princeton is to hang on to win the Ivy championship it was projected to before the season started, Weisz is going to have to continue stuffing the stat sheet and get more efficient shooting from Steven Cook and Devin Cannady. A win at formidable Monmouth Tuesday would reverse the Tigers’ slide, but Princeton could really use a win at Bucknell Thursday in what is basically a tossup game.
3. Penn (4-5)
Penn pulled off arguably the Ivy League’s most impressive nonconference win (along with Yale’s season-opening win at Washington) with its 58-49 victory at UCF to start the week. Penn freshman center A.J. Brodeur overcame UCF’s 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall, hitting some crucial shots in the paint around or through Fall in the second half that cemented him as the current favorite to win Ivy Rookie of the Year and a legitimate contender for first-team All-Ivy status. More importantly, Penn’s defense hunkered down early and often, holding Golden Knights not named Tacko Fall to 9-for-44 (20.5 percent) shooting on their home floor. It was UCF that entered the game with a top-30 defense nationally, but Penn’s defense was the best in CFE Arena in Orlando Monday night, and that’s no fluke when accounting for the Red and Blue’s entire season. Senior guard Matt Howard again proved himself an asset anywhere on the floor, going 3-for-7 from deep and adding nine rebounds and two assists. Penn should win its remaining two games before it travels to Princeton on Jan. 7, so momentum should
4. Harvard (4-4)
Harvard drops a slot by virtue of not playing a game this week while the Quakers scored what is likely the league’s best nonconference win of the year. Houston will provide a solid measuring stick for the Crimson on Friday. If Harvard’s frosh can shine there (on ESPN2, I might add), they can shine anywhere.
5. Columbia (4-5)
6. Brown (7-5)
Also didn’t play this week. Brown’s still favored to win its next three games, though, so the seven-win Bears could enjoy the most fruitful nonconference slate of any Ivy.
7. Cornell (2-6)
Cornell fell at Wyoming, 97-78, Saturday despite another solid effort from sophomore center Stone Gettings, who contributed 23 points and six rebounds in just 27 minutes. But the Big Red still rank 10th-worst in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, notching just five at Wyoming. That won’t bode well against Ivy defenses like Yale’s, Princeton’s or Penn’s.
8. Dartmouth (1-9)
Dartmouth finally registered its first win of the David McLaughlin era Sunday with an 82-68 triumph at LIU Brooklyn. Interestingly, the Big Green got it done with sophomore forward and reigning Ivy Rookie of the Year Evan Boudreaux posting just seven points in 30 minutes before fouling out. Previous Ivy Rookie of the Year Miles Wright came to the fore instead, notching 25 points on 10-for-17 shooting and seven rebounds to fuel the win. Dartmouth held LIU Brooklyn to 0.93 points per possession, a real accomplishment for a defense that has struggled so badly this season. Freshman guard Brendan Barry got extensively involved for only the third time this season, pouring in 14 points with 8-for-9 free throw shooting in 24 minutes. Dartmouth’s got a legitimate shot at winning its next game too, a matchup this Thursday at Bryant.