A take on the top 10 teams in Ivy men’s hoops history

Editor’s note: Ivy Hoops Online writer Richard Kent has followed Ancient Eight men’s basketball for decades and after consultation with players, coaches and fans has compiled his personal list of the top 10 men’s hoops teams since the formation of the Ivy League as we know it in 1955. No top 10 list in this category is going to look the same, so if you have a top 10 of your own that you’d like to share, please share it in a comment below. 

Princeton 1966-67 (25-3, 13-1 Ivy): This Tiger unit fought off injuries to the likes of John Haarlow and Gary Walters to finish the season fifth in the final Associated Press poll. Princeton defeated Villanova twice as well as North Carolina (in the regular season, alas not in the NCAA Tournament) and notched two NCAA tourney wins. The Tigers’ Ivy record was 13-1, with the lone blemish at Cornell.

Columbia 1967-68 (23-5, 12-2): The Lions were led by two future NBA stars in Jim McMillian and Dave Newmark and enjoyed significant contributions from Heyward Dotson, who died earlier this month. The Lions finished seventh in the final AP poll and picked up two NCAA tourney wins after triumphing over Princeton in an Ivy playoff game.
Princeton 1964-65 (23-6, 13-1): Just repeat the name Bill Bradley five times. And then repeat it again. The Tigers made a Final Four run and beat Wichita State in the consolation game with a memorable 58 points from Bradley, who remains the greatest player in Ivy League history.
Penn 1970-71 (28-1, 14-0): The Quakers were 28-0 before losing to Villanova, a team it had beaten during the regular season in the NCAA tourney, in a head-scratching 90-47 beatdown in the East regional final. But Penn finished third in the final AP poll and were led by Bob Morse, Dave Wohl, Steve Bilsky and Corky Calhoun.
Princeton 1997-98 (27-2, 14-0): The Tigers finished eighth in the final AP poll and beat Texas, NC State and UNLV. Gabe Lewullis, Steve Goodrich and Brian Earl were the glue.
Penn 1993-94 (25-3, 14-0): The Quakers beat Nebraska in the NCAA tourney behind Ivy Player of the Year Jerome Allen and backcourt mate Matt Maloney.
Penn 1978-79 (25-7, 13-1): Final Four. Enough said. The Quakers, led by Tony Price, finished No. 14 in the final AP poll. Penn upset UNC and Syracuse in the NCAA tourney and beat St. John’s before losing to Michigan State and DePaul in the Final Four.
Princeton 1968-69 (19-7, 14-0): Pete Carril’s second ever Princeton team had three stars in captain Chris Thomforde, Geoff Petrie and John Hummer. Petrie and Hummer were first-round NBA picks in 1970 and had great pro careers. Petrie was co-NBA Rookie of the Year for the 1970-71 season (along with Dave Cowens).
Yale 2015-16 (23-7, 13-1): Few teams have improved throughout a season more than this Yale squad led by Ivy Player of the Year Justin Sears, super sophomore Makai Mason and uber-efficient Brandon Sherrod. Coach James Jones noted, “We were the best rebounding team in the country,” and Baylor’s Taurean Prince was in no position to disagree after Yale beat the Bears to win the school’s first NCAA game ever in the NCAA Tournament Round of 64 before nearly besting Duke.
Cornell 2009-10 (29-5, 13-1): The Big Red won the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden and, led by Ryan Wittman, Louis Dale and Jeff Foote, made a run to the Sweet 16, losing to No. 1 seed Kentucky.
Honorable mentions
Penn 1971-72 (25-3, 13-1) Final AP poll: No. 3  
Yale 1961-62 (18-6, 13-1)
Yale 2018-19 (22-8, 10-4)
Harvard 2011-12 (26-5, 12-2) 
Penn 1994-95 (22-6, 14-0)
Harvard 2013-14 (27-5, 13-1)
Princeton 1974-75 (22-8, 12-2) Final AP poll: No. 12

3 thoughts on “A take on the top 10 teams in Ivy men’s hoops history”

  1. Interesting to note that the No 1 and No 3 Princeton teams each suffered one Ivy loss. Both lost to Cornell. Don’t see how a 71-72 Penn team with a final AP ranking of third in the country is left out. Great article to read

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  2. Excellent list- I wanted to add that the honorable mention Princeton 1974-1975 team won the NIT tournament, when fewer teams were eligible for the NCAA tournament and the competition in the NIT in 1975 was against top big conference schools. Reading about Pete Carril’s chess match strategy and brilliant rotations and substitutions in that tournament is spellbinding.

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  3. Read my book – ” the Golden Age of Ivy League Basketball : From Bill Bradley to Penn’s Final Four (1964- 1979)” – for the definitive breakdown. Any assessment of teams must include the talent level of the players( number of future NBA players), which this list does not. For example, Penn 70- 71 had three future NBA players (Dave Wohl, Corky Calhoun, Phil Hankinson). Princeton 71-72, led by future NBA star, Brian Taylor (DrJ’s Scottie Pippen) and player, Ted Manakas, routed North Carolina led by Hall of Famers Bob McAdoo, Bobby Jones and George Karl, 86-71 … You can’t assess the greatness of a team without assessing the greatness of the players. MJ would agree ; Jerry Krause, not so much.

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