Why Harvard Will Win/Lose

Our favorite cranky Cantab-hating commenter sent us the following essay yesterday. The author of this piece is not affiliated with Ivy Hoops Online, but we always welcome and encourage commenters, outside contributors, and readers to share their opinions and thoughts. 

The Ancient Quaker is sick of all the talk about 2012 Harvard being the best Ivy team ever. How about Penn's 1979 Final Four team? (Photo Credit: blogs.dailypennsylvanian.com)

By The Ancient Quaker

Now that the preliminaries are finally out of the way, at last comes the make or break weekend for the Crimson. The hyperbole surrounding this team is insufferable. The sporting press has already crowned them champions since early September. Some have even dared to call this year’s Crimson the best Ivy team of all time. (No, that would be the third ranked (that’s 3) Quakers of 1970. If you don’t agree, there are plenty of other possibilities: Bill Bradley’s Tigers, Penn’s 1979 Final Four team or even the sixth-ranked 1967 Columbia Lions with Jim McMillan.) What’s more, earlier this week ESPN was trying to determine Harvard’s likely tournament seed. As amusing as these possibilities may be, to this I say not so fast. With the P’s coming to Boston in a few days anything can happen. As I have already made clear in a prior article, I am no fan of Harvard Basketball or of their unctuous coach Tommy Amaker. Nevertheless (for fun), I will posit why I believe the Crimson will win their first outright title. Then to be fair (and hopeful), I will suggest why they will fail.

Read moreWhy Harvard Will Win/Lose

Saturday's Best

Brandyn Curry led the Crimson to a season sweep over Yale with 18 points on Saturday night in Harvard's 66-51 victory at Lavietes. (Photo Credit: thecrimson.com)

Best Domination of a Rivalry: Another efficient offensive performance from Harvard (1.22 points per possession) coupled with yet another lockdown defensive effort kept the Crimson in the driver”s seat. That”s 27 in a row at Lavietes and a season sweep of archrival Yale. This time, Harvard got out to a 35-15 first half lead, but Yale responded with an 11-0 run to close the half. The Bulldogs got within four early in the second half, but Harvard pulled away behind Curry”s scoring, Wright”s inside finishing, and Miller”s shooting off the bench.

For Yale, it was Mangano once again getting the buckets as the big man made it happen all over the court, knocking down 3 of 4 three point attempts and finishing with 22 points and 11 rebounds. A lack of depth hurt the Bulldogs (Mike Grace was not 100% after injuring his ankle) and Harvard did a great job of limiting Yale”s backcourt production. Austin Morgan and Reggie Willhite were held to 4-13 from the field and 15 points. For the Crimson, a balanced attack did the trick, though it was Brandyn Curry with

18 points and 5 assists leading the way. Wright finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds. It seems like we”ve had a game with serious title implications every weekend, and the Crimson will face one more when Zack Rosen and the 7-2 Quakers come to town on Saturday. One more sweep at home will virtually clinch the first solo title in Harvard history.

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Friday's Best

Kyle Casey and Harvard won an ugly game at the Palestra to take full control of the Ivy League title chase. (Photo Credit: pennathletics.com)

Best Road Warrior: Harvard. It's not always pretty, but the Crimson continue to find a way to get it done behind great defense again. Wright, Rivard and Curry combined to go 1-15, but Harvard's depth saved them as Corbin Miller contributed 17 points in just 18 minutes. Kyle Casey dropped 15 points, while Wright was a vacuum on the glass, grabbing 13 rebounds. Penn didn't receive any of the home cooking that some expected from a raucous night at the Palestra as the Quakers were whistled for 23 fouls, while Harvard was only whistled for 12 fouls. After the game, Rosen delivered this quote: “Usually, I'm a 'we' guy. We win. We lose. I

felt like I was totally to blame. I didn't hit the shots that I hit in my sleep, the shots I take day after day.” Of course, Rosen is bound to be hard on himself, but the Penn star did not deliver on this night, scoring 16 points on 21 shots. Cartwright pitched in with 12 points, while Bernardini was held to 2 points on 0-5 shooting. Harvard's grip on the Ivy title tightens after this one, and a sweep tonight at Princeton would all but end the race with three weekends to go.

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POY/ROY Tracker

Zack Rosen is currently the favorite to win Ivy League Player of the Year, while Greg Mangano, among others, give chase. (Photo Credit: penn12.com)

At the suggestion of commenter BrianEarl4Prez, now that we are nearly halfway through

the Ivy season, we are going to be monitoring the Ivy League Player of the Year/Rookie of the Year race via this weekly feature.

Player of the Year

The Contenders

1. Zack Rosen- Penn”s point guard has been superb so far for the Quakers. Logging the most minutes in the league and still managing to put up the most efficient offensive rating among go-to players says everything you need to know about this guy. Rosen”s passing ability is unmatched in a league full of impressive point guards this season, but the senior is also shooting 41% from deep and 48% from the field. Against rival Princeton, Rosen put up a performance for the ages, scoring 28 points and dishing out five assists with only two turnovers in 39 minutes. This is not a most valuable player award, but think about where Penn would be without Rosen? Certainly not in the thick of a title chase halfway through the season.

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IHO Power Poll: January 9, 2012 (Full Poll)

Harvard remains on top in IHO's Power Poll despite the Crimson's loss at Fordham and struggles at home against a young Dartmouth squad. (Photo Credit: chron.com)

Welcome to the second IHO Power Poll (based on games through 01/08/12). Please note that these rankings are based off of our best guesses of how the Ivy League picture will sort itself out. We always love to hear your gripes and whines in the comments below.

1. Harvard (13-2), (1-0)- Harvard is still the class of the league, even though the Crimson have cooled off a bit since the rousing New Year's comeback victory over St. Joe's. A loss to lowly Fordham and 32 minutes of uninspiring ball against Dartmouth has brought this squad back to the pack a bit. A willingness to rely on the three when Casey and Wright are denied the ball in a zone has proved dangerous for the Cantabs, who surely will be confronted with more of the same going forward. The Fordham loss could be good for Harvard though, as any expectations of running through the league unscathed are a bit far-fetched. The league is deeper than ESPN and other major media sources have been letting on and with the Friday-Saturday grind of the season, players will inevitably get dinged up and legs will get tired. Harvard should still win the league, but chances are they'll be doing it with two or three losses in a conference where everyone is gunning for them.

Read moreIHO Power Poll: January 9, 2012 (Full Poll)

A View from Antiquity: Quaker Fans, Consider the Tiger

The following essay appeared in the IHO Mailbox yesterday. The author of this piece is not affiliated with Ivy Hoops Online, but we always welcome and encourage outside contributors and readers to share their opinions and thoughts. 

What could drive a Penn fan to pull for their hated rivals? Harvard, it seems. (Photo Credit: penngazettesports.com)

By The Ancient Quaker

Ladies and gentleman of Pennsylvania do not hate me. I am as loyal and grateful a Quaker as any of you. I donate generously to the annual giving, married a woman with more Penn degrees than Amy Guttmann, and even named one of my sons Benjamin after our great founder. (We didn’t really name him after Big Ben but you catch my drift.) So why would I ever root for the hated and haughty Tigers and their Mickey Mouse Halloween colors?

Allow me to explain.

Read moreA View from Antiquity: Quaker Fans, Consider the Tiger

Common Opponents Analysis (Updated 1/4/12)

The transitive property is not the most reliable method for comparing teams, so despite what Elon says, we're not ready to put Dartmouth ahead of Princeton in our Power Poll.

With about six weeks of play in the books, we thought it was time to look back at the league”s common opponents to see if we could glean any knowledge from what”s happened on the court so far. Everyone knows that the transitive property carries limited weight in sports, but it”s still interesting to see how a team fares against multiple conference foes. Without further ado…

Read moreCommon Opponents Analysis (Updated 1/4/12)

Breaking News: Brown's Halpern Applying for Medical Redshirt; Out for Season

Tucker Halpern, Brown's leading scorer and All-Ivy Honorable Mention selection in 2010-11, will not play this season according to sources within the program. Halpern, who has been sidelined with a debilitating bout of mono since the preseason, is in the process of applying to retain a year of eligibility, meaning he would return in 2012-13 as a junior with two years of eligibility remaining.

While relatively rare in cheap clomid the Ivy League, medical redshirts have been obtained by a few active Ivy players who experienced similar illness or injury. Penn's Tyler Bernardini successfully retained a year of eligibility after he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his foot after the Quakers' second game of his junior year. Cornell's Dwight Tarwater missed his freshman season last year due to mono, but retained four years of eligibility, as did the Big Red's Dominic Scelfo due to a knee injury last season.

In the short-term, this is more bad news for the Bears. Earlier in the season, freshman Rafael Maia was declared ineligible by the NCAA for the 2011-12 season.

Brown takes on Providence College tonight at 7:00 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

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Jeremiah was a Bulldog and Other Thoughts on Yale-Seton Hall

Reggie Willhite and Yale played solidly for much of Tuesday night's game against Seton Hall, but were done in by sloppy play and turnovers in the second half. (Photo Credit: northjersey.com)

At one point during a break in the action at tonight’s Yale-Seton Hall matchup at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, a 7-year old lined up against a 13-year old to compete in the classic put-on-these-oversized-clothes-and-run-down-the-court-and-score contest. A 7-year old really has no business competing with a 13-year old, but there were so few people in the stands, they may not have been able to find two kids of a similar age (kidding, but barely). After a few missed lay-up attempts by the older child, there was the 7-year old, shuffling to the elbow and launching a prayer.

The shot fell far short and the older child made his lay-up to win the prize.

I could use that as a tidy little metaphor for the game that played out between Seton Hall and Yale, but it wouldn’t really be accurate. The Bulldogs had every opportunity to win this game, and it certainly wasn’t because Seton Hall was bigger and more experienced. On the contrary, there were quite a few times tonight when you would have thought the Bulldogs were the 13-year old, forcing Seton Hall into bad decisions on defense and finishing on clever passes at the rim. Yale is still a work in progress, though, and they let a big opportunity slip away during a seven-minute scoreless stretch late in the game. As an Ivy fan, it was frustrating to watch because the Bulldogs were talented enough to win this game. Here’s what Yale needs to improve upon if they want to eventually challenge Harvard and Penn, who look like the class of the league right now.

Read moreJeremiah was a Bulldog and Other Thoughts on Yale-Seton Hall