Columbia-Yale: A quick primer

Last year, Yale won at Columbia, 63-59, and Columbia won at Yale, 56-50, a season after the Elis prevailed at Levien Gym in the CIT quarterfinals at the Lions’ expense. But in this series’ matchup in New Haven last season, it was the Bulldog guards who had led the way in a losing effort for Yale, as Justin Sears scored just seven points on 3-for-8 shooting.

Yale enters the game tonight as the best team in the Ivies. Columbia can compete with Princeton as No. 2 until proven otherwise. Columbia is finally playing good defense in Ivy play after bad outings against Longwood, Fairfield and Stony Brook, among others. The Lions have the offensive weapons in Alex Rosenberg, Maodo Lo and a resurgent Grant Mullins to match Yale offensively. Those three notch a combined 42.6 points per contest. Indeed, the Lions are outscoring opponents by 8.5 points per game and outshooting the opposition from three. Luke Petrasek is shooting 53.6 percent from the floor and Lukas Meisner can certainly score off the bench. The Lions are not as strong as Yale in their starting lineup, player for player, and the bench which Yale used sparingly against Princeton, could spell the difference. Once again, if Sears and Sherrod can avoid foul trouble and the crowd is into the game despite a concurrent home hockey contest, the Elis should win. If the Columbia threes are falling, it could be a different story. Time will tell.

Princeton vs. Yale: A crucial showdown in New Haven

January 30 is a bit early for one of the three top most significant Ivy games of the year. But here it is. Princeton at Yale.

Last year, Yale beat Princeton on the road, 81-73, and smothered the Tigers at home in February, 81-60. Justin Sears had a total of 53 points on 19-for-26 shooting. Princeton simply had no one to contain him.

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Penn comes first for Yale this weekend

Last year, Yale trumped Penn easily at the Palestra, 75-48, with Makai Mason leading the way off the bench with 14 points. The series finished much closer in New Haven, with the game not decided until the final minute. Yale won, 55-50, partially due to a 32-24 rebounding advantage and 9-for-10 free throw shooting from now graduated Javier Duren.

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Why Nick Victor is Yale’s X-factor

Thirty-six minutes,15 points, four blocks, four assists, 11 rebounds. Not bad. But fairly typical of the glue of the Yale team, 6-5 Nick Victor, in leading his team to a 77-68 win over scrappy Brown Saturday at home.

Need a key bucket? Victor will score it. Want a player in position for an offensive rebound. That’s him? How about a steal? Count on Nick.

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Ivy 60 for 60: Butch Graves

Butch Graves averaged 20.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in his four years with Yale, finishing with 2,090 points for his career, third all-time in Ivy League history behind only Bill Bradley and Jim Barton. (Yale Athletics)
Butch Graves averaged 20.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in his four years with Yale, finishing with 2,090 points for his career, third all-time in Ivy League history behind only Bill Bradley and Jim Barton. (Yale Athletics)

Following our countdown of the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s men’s basketball history this summer, Ivy Hoops Online is delighted to continue celebrating the 60th anniversary of modern Ivy League basketball by honoring the top 60 players in Ivy hoops history (in no particular order):

In the early 1980s, if your team was not known as the Quakers or the Tigers, the Ivy was a one-star league. That is, the other six teams usually had one serviceable, if not transcendent, star player who needed to be dealt with lest your ‘P’ suffer a humbling and humiliating loss.  Butch Graves was Yale’s transcendent star from 1980 to 1984.

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Ivy Saturday roundup

Yale 77, Brown 68

As it did last season, Brown gave Yale a scare in New Haven, but not a loss.

Late free throws by Makai Mason and Jack Montague iced the game for the Elis, and Mason led Yale with 20 points in 32 minutes. Brown overcame an early 21-4 deficit to cut Yale’s lead to 37-31 at halftime. Cedric Kuakumensah, Tavon Blackmon and JR Hobbie combined for 50 of Brown’s 68 points and 15 of its 20 field goals. Brown and Yale combined for 49 fouls and 36 turnovers in what turned out to be a sloppy game.

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Previewing Brown-Yale & Cornell-Columbia

IHO takes a closer look at Saturday’s two Ivy conference matchups.

Brown at Yale, 5 p.m.

Last season: Then-senior guard Javier Duren canned a jumper with 3.4 seconds remaining to break a 65-65 tie and help ensure a Bulldogs victory. Yale’s 69-65 win completed a sweep of Brown, and the Elis took the lead for good with 12:28 to go in the game after Brown had led 31-25 at halftime. Justin Sears and Duren scored 27 and 24 points respectively, combining for 15 of Yale’s 20 field goals. Brown got a more balanced scoring attack, with Rafael Maia, Steven Spieth and Tavon Blackmon combining for 50 of Brown’s 65 points just five days before it Leland King’s departure from the Brown basketball program was announced. (King played only in the first matchup of this series in Providence last season, his final game as a Bear.)

Read morePreviewing Brown-Yale & Cornell-Columbia

Yale looks to keep rolling against Brown

We are all aware that a No. 1 seed has never lost to a No. 16 seed in the NCAA men’s tourney. When Yale takes on Brown in New Haven Saturday, it will be a No. 1 vs. a No.8, and I don’t see No. 8 having a decent chance at a win.

The best thing that Brown has going for it is the one game dynamic over the weekend, which will assist its lack of depth. With the transfer of Justin Massey out of the program in December, Brown really is down to two star players, in longtime defensive specialist Cedric Kuakumensah and scorer and ball distributor Tavon Blackmon. That’s not enough weapons to stop Yale, especially on the road, as Brown ranks next to last among all Ivies in scoring defense and rebounding margin, two of Yale’s greatest strengths.

Justin Sears is still the top Ivy player and despite an eye injury, will be back in force on Saturday. Senior guard Nick Victor, the glue of the team, is shooting north of 50 percent from three-point range, Brandon Sherrod is tough on the boards and Makai Mason may be the best guard in the Ivies as only a sophomore. Jack Montague has not been shooting well, but can really light it up when on. Sophomore guard Eric Anderson is showing a lot more than expected off the bench. James Jones is the dean of the Ivy coaches and is as well versed in the league as anyone, coach or commentator.

Look for Yale to win easily at home.

Reporter’s Notebook: A trip to Duke

Our Richard Kent chronicles Yale”s trip to Durham to face defending national champion No. 6 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium Wednesday. Yale lost to Duke, 80-61, but Kent astutely observed a whole lot more than a final score.

Tuesday 6 p.m. Time for the Yale hard practice in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The building seemed a lot smaller in person and loads of camera phone pictures were taken before the practice started. Then the team and certainly the coaches were all business. Coach James Jones was as intense as I have ever seen him. The practice was orchestrated to the minute. Assistant coach Justin Simon, a former Bulldog himself, was in charge of the Duke scouting report. He was focused to a large extent on the Duke post players and wanted to be certain that forwards Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod were positioned properly. Both players seemed to pick up the report easily and Sears was focused on working on his short-range side jumper and free throws.

Read moreReporter’s Notebook: A trip to Duke