Ivy Power Rankings – Jan. 9, 2017

1. Princeton (8-6, 1-0)
See Toothless Tiger’s recap for game details, but the team’s 61-52 win over Penn proved they’re a resilient bunch. It’s not easy to withstand a 26-5 run from your archrival, but the Tigers did just that in the second half, hanging on with team-wide superior composure and characteristically clutch play from Devin Cannady. It was Cannady who broke the 44-44 tie following Penn’s gangbusters run and played outstanding defense alongside Myles Stephens down the stretch. Princeton’s defense is more than good enough to carry it to the league’s top slot.

2. Yale (8-5, 0-0)

Yale ran its home winning streak to 20 straight with wins over Hartford and Division III Mitchell. I’m not going to waste time recapping a win over a D-3 opponent, but Yale’s victory over lowly Hartford turned out to be a showcase for freshman forward Jordan Bruner, who exploded for 25 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes. Fellow underclassmen Miye Oni and Blake Reynolds combined for an additional 28 points, further suggesting the future is now for the Bulldogs.

3. Harvard (7-5, 1-0)

Harvard opened its 2017 with an 82-71 loss at Vermont, with Chris Lewis and Bryce Aiken leading the way with 32 combined points on 13-for-17 shooting. Lewis followed up an impressive performance against the Catamounts with a 7-for-8 shooting performance in just 26 minutes in the Crimson’s 74-58 victory at Dartmouth. Lewis also collected three blocks and five offensive rebounds in both games combined. It seems like Lewis has flown under the radar from an Ivy League-wide perspective this season, but he and the well-rounded Justin Bassey played crucial roles for the Crimson this week. Bassey set a career scoring high against Division I competition at Dartmouth, and he’s an asset on defense as well as a solid rebounder and passer. It stands to reason that Harvard’s freshmen will get appreciably better as Ivy play continues, so the Crimson as a team will too.

4. Penn (6-6, 0-1)

Free throws. It helps to make them. Penn didn’t do so nearly enough at Princeton, making just 11 of 20 attempts while Princeton enjoyed a 24-for-28 (85.7 percent) performance. Forget everything else – the Tigers won at the foul line in a game where both defenses made sure points came at a premium. Penn A.J. Brodeur picked up two first-half fouls and wound up going 4-for-10 from the foul line, helping leave the Tigers off the hook. Junior guard Darnell Foreman shone with 17 points, seven rebounds and three rebounds, and underclassmen Ryan Betley and Jackson Donahue combined to shoot 6-for-11 from long range, an impressive feat at Jadwin Gym that bodes well for the rest of the Ivy slate. But if Penn can’t solve its free-throw issues, it’s likely to lose multiple close conference games it would otherwise win.

5. Columbia (6-7, 0-0)

The Lions rolled over lesser competition, at Maine and hosting Howard. Columbia freshman guard Mike Smith lit Maine up with 21 points in 30 minutes, and Jeff Coby churned out 13 points and 13 rebounds – including seven offensive – in just 20 minutes. The Lions continue to play at a quicker pace than last season and are less reliant on the three-pointer. They’re much less efficient and more turnover-prone on offense, but that’s to be expected when you lose Maodo Lo, Grant Mullins and Alex Rosenberg. To win at Cornell Saturday, the Lions are going to have to keep making hay at the foul line and watch their shot selection, knowing that the Big Red like to push tempo even more than they do but struggle to force turnovers.

6. Brown (9-7, 0-0)

In its sole game this week, Brown fell just short at NJIT, 75-73, coming back from a 54-36 deficit with 13 minutes to play. It’s not a bad loss, and the comeback – led by Joshua Howard – speaks well of Brown’s ability to hunker down on defense and control a game on the road. That’ll come in handy for the next few weeks, as five of the Bears’ first six league games are road matchups. Brown ranks first in the nation in percentage of points scored at the free throw line, so at least the Bears can keep going to that well.

7. Cornell (4-11, 0-0)

Cornell’s lone Division I contest this week was a 69-59 defeat at Albany, where the Big Red launched 31 three-point shots as opposed to 18 two-point attempts. Albany’s 1-3-1 zone confounded Cornell in the game’s final 3:54, allowing the Great Danes to end the game on a 9-1 run. Simply put, Cornell’s got to shoot more efficiently from deep if it’s going to counteract its rebounding shortcomings.

8. Dartmouth (3-11, 0-1)

The Big Green committed 17 turnovers against Harvard, including five each from Miles Wright and Guilien Smith. Harvard’s defense is tough, but going forward, Dartmouth will have to thread the needle of attacking the basket aggressively without committing so many turnovers and take advantage of their solid free-throw shooting.

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