Now that we’re well into nonconference season, we’ve got a bead on how the Ivies are coming along so far. Our Richard Kent breaks down his Ivy power rankings. What are yours?
1. Yale (5-3) The best team by far thus far. Makai Mason is making an early case for Ivy Player of the Year, coming up big against top competition (37 points and 15 assists against SMU and Duke combined). Justin Sears is, well, Justin Sears (and the reigning Ivy POY, who has to like his chances of doing major damage to the Tigers, who he scored 53 points against in two games a year ago) after Stony Brook forward Jameel Warney dominated the Tigers in the frontcourt last week. Brandon Sherrod is a specimen after taking a year off. Should have beaten the Mustangs and were competitive at Cameron Indoor for a half.
Several weeks ago, I was inspired by The Ancient Quaker’s epic power poll. If the AQ can create a ranking of the Ivy basketball teams so detached from Planet Earth that Penn would come in at No. 1, why couldn’t I do the same?
Behold, then: a totally scientific and rational power poll, with just three weekends left in the season.
I will follow the guideline established by the AQ from his power rankings: “I’ve decided to rank the teams as I see them which of course has nothing to do with reality.”
It is I, The AQ. This week I am guest hosting the IHO Power Rankings. For the purists out there, after the first back-to-back Ivy weekend, the rankings should probably look something like this:
Normally, this list is dutifully accompanied by the earnest commentary and incisive statistical analysis that you’ve come to know and love from IHO. An introspection of our favorite teams that is indeed worthy of our elite educations.
For those of you expecting this, my apologies in advance. This week, since it is still early in the 14-Game Tournament and because there were no real surprises in the games last weekend, I thought it was the perfect time to switch things up a bit. (After all, you have the whole month of February to get your ORAT freak on.) Instead, I’ve decided to rank the teams as I see them which of course has nothing to do with reality. So without further ado, here is The AQ’s “Special” IHO Power Rankings for February 1, 2015.
Harvard – Despite the narrow loss to Holy Cross, they are still the cream of the crop and merit the number one spot.
Yale – The Bulldogs lost to Quinnipiac without Nick Victor and with him, probably would have beaten the Bobcats on the road.
Princeton – The Tigers had a nice win over Rider led by Spencer Weisz, with 18 points.
Brown – The Bears stand at 1-1 and despite a blow-out loss to Northwestern, they are a talented team with Cedric Kuakumensah at the forward spot.
Columbia – Obviously the early season injury to star Alex Rosenberg did not help and the Lions fell to not that strong Stony Brook by one point on the road.
Penn – Tony Hicks lit it up for 31 points in a narrow loss to Delaware State. Rider handled the Quakers easily last night.
Cornell – The Big Red had a strong win on the road against George Mason in what can definitely be considered an upset, not to mention their comeback win over Colgate.
Dartmouth – The Big Green were blown out by St. Bonaventure but showed some life on the boards, outrebounding their foes, 41-39.Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter (@IvyHoopsOnline).
On January 25th, the chances that the Yale Bulldogs would win their next seven games were less than 1%. Of course, the Elis bucked the odds and rode the unlikely string of victories into a tie for first place heading into Sunday’s showdown with Columbia. But Yale’s good fortune crashed more violently than the NBC Sports Network video truck outside Levien as the boys of Morningside Heights methodically stifled Justin Sears and Co. And now, we are faced with the prospect of a final weekend with little drama if Yale can’t bounce back and pick up a win or two on the always-challenging southern road trip.
Still, all the credit goes to Harvard for storming into a loud, defiant Jadwin and tossing off the shackles of history in an impressive second half defensive effort that sealed the Crimson’s pivotal ninth win.
Yale’s upset over Harvard eliminated the possibility of an unblemished run for the talented Crimson, but it wasn’t enough to bump Harvard from the top spot in the Power Poll. Meanwhile, Princeton’s final minute meltdown against Columbia has relegated the Tigers to their lowest position in the history of the Power Poll. Wild times as we approach the midway point of the conference season…
After the Crimson’s surprising loss to FAU, some have suggested that the Ivy title race may not be as cut and dry as everyone expected. And in some sense, that’s fair. Harvard certainly doesn’t look like a team that’s going to run the table and finish the season in the Top 25. But 12-2 seems about right at this point for a team getting back one of the nation’s best shot blockers and otherwise loaded with talent at every position. And yet the best thing going for Harvard is the strength of the middle of the league. It seems increasingly unlikely that another team will be able to navigate the minefield of teams 2 through 6 and win even 10 league contests. But that’s why they play the games. Things could look a lot different on Sunday if Penn or Princeton can tag Harvard with a home loss, or if Columbia can sweep the second leg of its three-weekend road trip.
There seem to be a few clear divisions within the league after six weeks of hoops. Princeton and Harvard has been the thrilling Ivy narrative thus far, with both teams on torrid runs to start the season. Many thought this would be a runaway title for the Crimson, but it’s great for Ivy supporters to see a second team step up the way the Tigers have. It certainly makes for an exciting conference slate (circle Jan. 31 and Feb. 22 on your calendars, folks).
There’s another tight battle going on in the middle of the league though, as Brown, Columbia, and Yale jockey for that 3rd position in the Ivy. This year, with up to six teams looking at the possibility of an over-.500 record, there will be something to play for below the title chase. Those middle-of-the-league contests promise to be pretty exciting as teams play for postseason berths in the NIT, CBI, and CIT.
Dartmouth and Penn have been slotted in the sixth and seventh slots, two teams that appear to be going in opposite directions.
And then there is Cornell, a team that is historically bad to the point that the 0-10 Tiny Red are owners of the worst defense in all of the 351-team Division I universe, conceding 1.198 points per possession, a far cry from the D-I average of 1.035 ppp.
All season long, Princeton and Harvard have traded places in our Power Poll, but the Crimson”s well-documented Jadwin blues, coupled with a shocker of a loss at the Palestra on Saturday, leave the Tigers in control of the title picture. There is still a lot of basketball to be played, but Mitch Henderson”s veteran squad will be a strong favorite in its final three road games and the young Cantabs can only take care of business and scoreboard watch at this point. Outside the top two, the Brown Bears were the big movers this week, while the injury-stricken Big Red continued to tumble. This will be our final Power Poll of the year, but make sure to check back next week for our IHO All-Ivy Awards.
1. Princeton (9-2) (5 first place votes, 40 points)– Ian Hummer wouldn”t let Princeton lose on Friday. The senior stepped up and played a complete game on both ends of the floor, willing the Tigers to victory in the final minutes of Harvard”s comeback attempt. The atmosphere at Jadwin was electric on Friday, as the students showed up in force to support the orange and black on national television. There was a fan in a Gumby suit, two people dressed as bananas, and a man in an American flag one-piece jump suit who came within inches of hitting a half-court shot for $10,000. In other words, Jadwin was the place to be on Friday, and on the biggest stage, the Tigers came through. Saturday was Senior Night, and while Harvard was down in Philly gacking up its chance at a championship, Princeton was struggling with a hangover, trailing Dartmouth at the half. Henderson did what he had to do to get his squad motivated at the break though, as the Tigers opened up a double-digit lead and held on for the crucial 68-63 win. Now, with three games to play– all on the road, mind you– every Princeton fan has suddenly become a math major, calculating the odds of winning out against the league”s 3rd, 4th, and 5th placed teams. Using Pomeroy”s odds for each game, here”s your answer (and it might surprise you): Princeton”s chances of winning out are 38.76%. Of course, there are other feasible ways Princeton can win the title, but let”s be serious. Harvard isn”t losing to Columbia again and Cornell is trotting out its B-Team with all those injuries. I know I wouldn”t bet against Hummer at this point, but let”s see this race for what it is: not over yet. -Bruno March
In a year where it seemed like 11, even 10 wins, might be enough to capture the crown, both favorites have mostly avoided stumbling thus far (Yale, Columbia notwithstanding…), to the point that it seems realistic that 12 wins may only earn entry to another thrilling playoff. We”re looking far ahead here with 2.5 weekends to go, but the Tigers and Crimson appear to be rounding into top form at this point, setting the stage for one, maybe two, bitterly fought clashes between two teams with a quickly growing rivalry– experience and length vs. youth and athleticism, the old guard vs. the new kids on the block. Friday should be a real treat for fans of the league, and really, fans of good, hard-fought basketball.