Best Upset: Princeton. The Tigers made sure that there would be no undefeated champion of the Ivy League this year, defending Jadwin from the Crimson for the 23rd consecutive year, 70-62. This may have been the most unlikely of those 23 home victories, as the jubilant Princeton crowd rushed the court at the buzzer. It was a back-and-forth affair the whole way as Harvard led by five at the half before Princeton finally pulled away in the final four minutes. The Tigers had five players in double figures, led by Ian Hummer”s 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. Point guard TJ Bray had 12 points, while big man Brendan Connolly pitched in with 11 points and 6 rebounds. Denton Koon didn”t miss a shot, adding 10 points in 18 minutes (4-4 FG, 2-2 FT), and Mack Darrow rounded out the double-digit scoring with 10 to go with 5 boards. Princeton only missed one field goal and had one turnover in the game”s final five minutes. For Harvard, Keith Wright provided much of the offense, scoring 16 on 7-11 shooting, while Brandyn Curry had 15. Harvard yielded 70 points to an opponent for only the second time this season (Seattle scored 70 in a 80-70 Crimson victory back in early December).
The Big Green visit the Palestra tonight after losing yet another second half lead last night at Princeton. The freshmen continue to produce and get valuable court time, but the experience has yet to translate into victories for 0-7 Dartmouth. On the other hand, a frustrated Penn team held Harvard's most potent weapons to 1-15 shooting from the field last night and still lost 56-50. Zack Rosen took the blame for the loss, having shot 6-21 from the field. Penn will look to get back on the right foot tonight, while being in the uncomfortable position of having to root for rivals Princeton against Harvard. If the Tigers can pull the upset at Jadwin, all is not lost for Penn, as the Quakers would still control their own destiny, though it would of course necessitate winning at Harvard.
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.
It’s tough to believe that teams not named Harvard are playing basketball in the Ancient Eight these days (see #Top 25, #Linsanity, etc.) but in the “also competing” category on Saturday night Brown travels to Ithaca to take on the over-.500 Big Red. At 4-3 in the league, Cornell seems solidly in the top half, while Brown, traveling without standout guard Sean McGonagill, continues to compete with Dartmouth for the bottom spot in conference.
From Friday Night
It’s never easy to find a bright spot in a 28-point loss, especially when your top producer in points, assists, and thefts stays home with an injury. Andrew McCarthy and Stephen Albrecht, the next two leading scorers for the Bears, combined for just 3 points on 1-14 shooting. With that stat line, a blowout defeat is no surprise.
On East Hill, Cornell shot a
season best 46% from deep, getting a career-high 29 from Johnny Gray and a near triple double from the re-emerged Chris Wroblewski. A win over the Elis Friday night gives Cornell a second solid league win and a legitimate claim at the top half.
Yale vs. Columbia usually provides fans with a good show. Sometimes the games are meaningful, other times they are for nothing more than bragging rights among two teams separated by a 15 dollar Metro-North ticket which usually leads to a good crowd. This one does mean something. Despite the overtime loss in Ithaca, the Bulldogs are within two games of first place with Harvard still on the schedule one more time.
Tonight’s contest at Jadwin is ostensibly a revenge game, but it doesn’t feel like it. The Tigers simply are not the same team anymore. Dan Mavraides, Kareem Maddox, and Sidney Johnson have hit the bricks, Princeton is looking on from the outside of the title race, and the sad truth is that nothing, certainly not a mid-February matchup, will avenge the Crimson’s playoff loss a year ago. Still, tonight’s matchup is one of the best battles that the Ivy League has to offer.
First, the facts: Harvard has not won at Jadwin Gymnasium since 1989; it has not swept the Killer P’s on the road since the 1984-85 season; and it has never started 8-0 in league play. Even at 11-10, a good argument can be made that the Tigers are the second best team in the conference. Its wins over Buffalo, Florida St., and Rutgers are three of the best results on the Ivy League’s collective non-conference resume, and, despite sitting in fifth place, Princeton can easily climb the ranks with six of its final eight games at home.
On Friday, Harvard heads down to Philadelphia for another one of those games, the exceptional few that shape the title race. Penn, although a half-game behind Yale in the standings after last week’s loss in New Haven, is actually in the best position to catch the Crimson because it hasn’t yet conceded a home defeat to the league leaders. What we have in effect, then, is another No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup, this time staged in one of basketball’s most hallowed gymnasiums.
If this year’s game is even half as good as last year’s, it will
be a memorable night (at the very least, it’s virtually guaranteed to eclipse the 30-point drubbing that Harvard laid on the Elis two weeks ago). In 2011, it took two overtimes to determine the outcome, an 83-82 Crimson victory, and that was not without a fair share of controversy (punctuated by Steve Bilksy wagging his finger in the face of Reggie Greenwood).
Columbia comes into this matchup with some positive momentum after splitting last weekend's northern jaunt up to Hanover and Allston. The more impressive performance for the Lions came in the loss to Harvard, a game Columbia trailed by two with only minutes remaining. Barbour continues his impressive run through the league as the conference's leading scorer and Cisco is right on Mangano's heels as one of the league's top rebounders. When the Lions get solid production from a third player, usually Lyles or Rosenberg, they are a dangerous team.
Brown, on the other hand, continues to struggle. The Bears looked promising through their first four Ivy games, getting a victory at home against Dartmouth, and keeping things interesting against Yale and Harvard. Last weekend was a big step back though, as the Bears' roster was depleted due to injury. Princeton came into the Pizz and pulled away early, never looking back in a double-digit victory, and an angry Penn team came in the next night and did the same thing. At 1-5, things look like they may be unraveling quickly for a Brown team with some very tough road trips still on the schedule.
Yale may not come into Ithaca with the fanfare and national following that
will surround Harvard’s visit in three weeks, but James Jones’ squad is quietly getting things done. The Bulldogs have not won even a share of the Ivy League title since the 2001-2002 season, but are one of three remaining legitimate contenders to this year’s crown. The Bulldogs come into Newman Arena Friday night as hot as any Ivy team. Yale, winner of seven of its last eight, enters the weekend straight off its first sweep of Penn and Princeton since the 2006-07 season. Cornell on the other hand is right about where we expected. The Big Red sits at 3-3 in the league play, a half game up on Princeton for 4th in the Ivy standings. A solid showing at home against Yale and Brown will keep the Big Red in the upper half of the league, where Bill Courtney believes his squad belongs.
After playing their first five Ivy League games on the road (and 12 of their last 13 games away from Central New Jersey), the Princeton Tigers finally return to Jadwin Gymnasium to face Dartmouth on Friday. Princeton is looking to get back to .500 in Ivy League play after losing to Yale in New Haven last week, while the Big Green is still searching for its first league win of the season.
History is not kind to DartmouthвЂ™s hopes of notching a minor upset against the Tigers this weekend. As noted by the Dartmouth basketball website with a sort of grim determination earlier this week, since Jadwin Gym opened in 1968, the Big Green has won only 3 of 43 games at Princeton. The Tigers have won the last four meetings with Dartmouth, and have yet to lose back-to-back games in the Ivy League this season (granted, theyвЂ™ve also failed to win back-to-back games against their Ivy competition, which doesnвЂ™t bode well for HarvardвЂ™s visit Saturday night, but thatвЂ™s a concern for an entirely separate blog post).