Ivy women’s update – Mar. 2, 2017

On Friday night, Penn clinched a berth in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament with a 47-34 victory over Cornell at the Palestra. The Red battled back from Penn’s initial 7-0 start, but could not counter the Quakers’ 11-0 run at the start of the second quarter. Both teams shot poorly (Cornell 24 percent overall and 18 percent from three; Penn 37 percent overall and 29 percent from three), but Penn’s more dominant inside game proved to be the difference.

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Penn basketball has got heart

The sudden resurgence of the Penn Quakers men’s basketball team has been one of the biggest stories of the Ivy League season. After an 0-6 start to conference play, including a four-game stretch where they lost by 12 at the Palestra to (preseason eighth-place) Brown, gave up an early 15-point lead in a defeat at Harvard, were upset by previously winless Dartmouth and got beat by 15 points at home to Princeton, many people (including this writer) were ready to write off the 2016-17 campaign. After the last two weekends, the team has regrouped and is now tied with Columbia for the final spot in the Ivy League Tournament.

Over the last four games, not only has the team played its best basketball of the season, the performances may have been the program’s most dominant in the last decade. The numbers that Penn has put up have been staggering.

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Ivy women’s update – Feb. 22, 2017

Penn came into the weekend with a 7-0 record and was fortunate to escape with a split. On Friday, Brown used a 12-0 run to take a 15-point lead after the first quarter. Penn chipped away and took a two-point advantage into the fourth quarter. The Bears then went on a 15-6 run to take a seven-point lead with 4:16 to go. Penn tied it at 66 with 1:05 on the clock. Following a Brown bucket, the Quakers got an old fashioned three-point play to take the lead and two free throws to ice the 71-68 victory.

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Second division looking for a second wind

After a crazy first full weekend of conference play, a definite separation has developed between Princeton, Harvard and Yale and the remainder of the league .

1) Princeton 8-0 (wins versus Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Penn x 2)
T-2) Yale 6-2 (wins versus Columbia, Penn, Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown x 2)
T-2) Harvard 6-2 (wins versus Yale, Brown, Penn, Cornell, Dartmouth x 2)
4) Columbia 4-4 (wins versus Harvard, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth)
T-5) Brown 2-6 (wins versus Penn, Cornell)
T-5) Penn 2-6 (wins versus Columbia, Cornell)
T-5) Cornell 2-6 (wins versus Columbia, Dartmouth)
T-5) Dartmouth 2-6 (wins versus Brown, Penn)

Looking at the standings, nine wins will give a team an automatic spot in the four-team postseason tournament.  At this time, Princeton is one win away, while Yale and Harvard are three away.  Barring a complete collapse from any of these teams, three quarters of the tournament are close to being set.

Despite being swept by Penn and Princeton this past weekend, Columbia still has the upper hand for the last spot in the tournament since the Lions have a two-game lead and is the only remaining team that can get to nine victories.  If Columbia cannot win at least five of its last six, then things get more complicated.

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Cornell 4.0 may just be the one

For Cornell’s first-year head coach Brian Earl, the 2016-17 campaign was going to have challenges typical to many new Ivy League coaches. In addition to bringing some new staff and a different playing style, the coach was not able to recruit any of his own players. With only one first-year coming to East Hill in the fall, the team was similar to the one that went 10-18 overall and 3-11 in the conference last year.

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