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: February 6, 2012

Oh hello there Tommy! Yes, your Crimson are ranked first again in this week's IHO Power Poll. But with a southern weekend swing coming up, there's no telling where we'll stand next week. (Photo Credit: philly.com)

Welcome to the sixth IHO Power Poll (based on games through 02/06/12). 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 (6-0), (20-2)- The Crimson protected its home court over the weekend to remain undefeated in league play. Harvard showed little sign of weakness against Cornell on Friday night, building a 14-point lead at the break and affording its starters some rest in the second half (the bench saw 40 percent of the court time). The light load proved useful the following night, as the Crimson had to grind out a 57-52 victory over Columbia. Despite 11 missed free throws, Harvard built an 8-point lead with a little over five minutes remaining, but two threes and a three-point play from the Lions left the Crimson clinging to a 2-point lead with 2:39 to go. But Harvard executed down the stretch, getting a pair of stops and hitting five of its final six free throws (the Crimson took 32 on the night compared to just eight for Columbia) to ice the victory. The home sweep carried Harvard to the top of the Ivy League standings and sets up a huge showdown with Penn at the Palestra this Friday. -C. River Banks 

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Saturday's Best: Yale Sweeps the P's

Reggie Willhite and Greg Mangano led the Bulldogs to their first sweep of Penn and Princeton since the '06-'07 season. (Photo Credit: ctbulletin.com)

Quick thoughts from Saturday night”s results

Best Team: Yale. Yale gets the rare P”s sweep by taking down Princeton 58-54 at home. Reggie Willhite was the star, dropping 20 points, including a second-half highlight reel dunk, while grabbing 9 rebounds. Greg Mangano had another dominant performance as well, getting 20 points of his own (on 17 shots, though) to go with 12 rebounds, for yet another double-double. The Yale backcourt didn”t shoot well–Grace was 0-4, Morgan was 1-9–but they finally ended their turnover woes, limiting giveaways to 10. Princeton was coming off of a very hot shooting night against Brown, but the Tigers were held to 33% from the field (and an ice cold 19% from deep), with Ian Hummer”s 18 points leading the way. Princeton falls out of the title chase with their third loss of the season.

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Game Preview: Penn at Brown

Zack Rosen is licking his chops at the opportunity to take on the porous Brown defense tonight. (Photo Credit: penngazettesports.com)

Let”s get right to it here. Penn isn”t losing this game. The Quakers are coming off of a frustrating loss at Yale last night, their first of the conference season, and they are going to be angry and determined. Meanwhile, Brown got throttled by a mediocre Princeton team, and despite what the Cornell Basketball Blogger claims, the Bears are far and away the Ivy team most devastated by injury and other absences. Yes, last year”s leading scorer and All-Ivy player Tucker Halpern and Rookie of the Year frontrunner Rafael Maia are out for the season, but now the already-razor thin Bears bench is taking a hit. According to Scott Cordeschi at GoLocalProv, Freshman Longji Yiljep is out for the season with a toe injury, junior Patrick Donnelly is out for the season with a hip injury, freshman Jon Schmidt has an eye injury, Jean Harris can”t play due to the flu, and Steven Albrecht is experiencing those pesky back problems. It”s honestly a war zone down in Providence, and given the lack of depth the Bears had to begin with, it”s a wonder that Brown is competing as well as they are in the league this year.

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Game Preview: Cornell at Dartmouth

Drew Ferry should be able to get some open looks tonight, as Dartmouth has struggled to lock down opposing guards. (Photo Credit: cornellsun.com)

If there’s one thing Cornell knows all too well, it’s that it can’t sleep on the Dartmouth basketball team. A year ago, the two teams met in Hanover, a game that most thought Cornell would surely win. Despite the common prediction, the Big Red came out lacking focus and energy, resulting in its first loss at Dartmouth in the last six seasons. Out of all the tough stretches the Big Red endured last season, losing at Dartmouth was rock bottom. If we can use last year’s matchup to infer one thing about Saturday night’s game, it’s that the Big Red won’t be caught sleeping.

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Game Preview: Princeton at Yale

Brendan Connolly and the Tigers are in a must-win situation tonight as they go up against Greg Mangano and the Yale Bulldogs. (Photo Credit: nj.com)

After a crucial 60-53 win last night against Penn (11-10, 3-1 Ivy), the Bulldogs (14-5, 4-1 Ivy) have the chance to make a serious statement about their title aspirations with another win today against Princeton. The good news is that the Bulldogs have some momentum coming into this game. In their last two outings, since suffering a humiliating 65-35 loss at the hands of Harvard, the Bulldogs have been absolutely stellar on the defensive end, having allowed only 53 and 52 points respectively.

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Game Preview: Columbia at Harvard

Keith Wright and company look to continue their winning ways with a showdown at home against a struggling Columbia squad. (Photo credit: thecrimson.com)

This weekend represents the biggest trap games left on Harvard’s schedule. Each of the following weeks pit the Crimson against a contender, and the final back-to-back on the road in New York will either be a victory lap or an opportunity to clinch the title. But Super Bowl weekend brings a pair of lesser opponents to town. As such, Saturday night’s game between Harvard and Columbia is easy to overlook in favor of juicier matchups down the line (ahem, the Killer P’s next week). But the faceoff between the Lions and the Crimson might prove as meaningful to the Ivy race as any other showdown this weekend.

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Friday's Best: Yale knocks off Penn

Greg Mangano carried Yale to a big victory over Zack Rosen's Penn Quakers tonight at the John J. Lee Amphitheatre. (Photo Credit: ivyleaguesports.com)

Quick hitters from Friday night”s games

Best win: Yale. Tonight”s biggest victory has to go to the Yale Bulldogs. Penn had a lot of momentum late in this game, and the Bulldogs could have let it all slip away when they started to get sloppy with the ball in the second half. Yale”s guards turned it around though and Mangano decided that the Elis weren”t losing this one, grabbing two offensive rebounds off missed free throws (one was his own) in the final minute to seal the win. Turnovers continue to trouble this team as Reggie Willhite, Austin Morgan, and Mike Grace combined for 13 giveaways, but besides those lapses in judgement (which need to be corrected soon), the Yale guards were impressive. Morgan hit three critical three pointers under pressure; Willhite showed his typical hustle on both ends, grabbing key rebounds and knocking down a huge late-game jumper; and Mike Grace had his best game of the season. The North Carolina native was 5-6 from the field with four assists, showing a propensity for the bank shot and looking more dangerous than he has all year. Mangano was pissed off at the referees all game, but he stopped whining and took the game into his own hands down the stretch, denying Rosen the chance at a game-tying three by getting those monster rebounds. The big man showed great touch around the rim all day, finishing with 23 points on 8-13 shooting and 10 rebounds. If this was Round One of the Player of the Year battle between Mangano and Rosen, the Bulldog came out on top.

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Game Preview: Columbia at Dartmouth

Columbia looks to bounce back after a difficult 1-3 start to league play with a visit to Hanover on Friday. (Photo credit: gocolumbialions.com)

Dartmouth hosts Columbia Friday night in a game that only a true Ivy hoops fanatic could love. The Big Green is still searching for that elusive first league win, while Columbia is off to a disappointing 1-3 start, dropping those three games by a total of 11 points. Both teams are out of the title chase, but Columbia needs to prove that they belong in the second-tier of this year”s league. Dartmouth, on the other hand, has to get off the schneid. Given that this Big Green squad is significantly more talented than past teams, it seems inevitable that this year”s group will pick up a W sooner or later. So why not tonight?

Well, first off, Columbia”s not a great matchup for the Big Green. Mark Cisco is big and strong enough inside to outplay freshman Gabas Maldunas, whose performance has dipped lately (27 percent shooting over the last two weeks); Brian Barbour has already shredded the likes of Zach Rosen, Doug Davis, and Chris Wroblewski to the tune of 20.8 points per game, so Jabari Trotter should not pose much of an obstacle; and, while Alex Rosenberg and Meiko Lyles have been streaky, they’ve incredibly managed to synchronize their hot-and-cold cycles so that the Lions have a viable third scoring option.

From a larger perspective, Dartmouth is an average defensive team (1.017 points per possession) that is inept offensively (.883). Columbia is an (almost) OK offensive team (.948) that is good defensively (.965). That means when Columbia has the ball, it will be a fair fight. When the Big Green has the ball, it will be ugly.

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Game Preview: Penn at Yale

Zack Rosen has been unstoppable this year. The way Yale's backcourt has struggled, the Bulldogs have their work cut out for them Friday night at home. (Photo Credit: pennathletics.com)

This game contains the weekend's biggest title implications. Of course, a loss would be less dire for undefeated Penn, as the Quakers would still technically control their own destiny with a loss, but I think even the most optimistic of Penn fans are seeing a Harvard season sweep as a significant long shot.

Given the heightened significance of this game, this one should be really fun to watch. Yale’s guard play this last weekend was highly inconsistent, and the turnover bug bit the Bulldogs about as badly as I’ve ever seen (ignoring Jake Delhomme’s 6 turnover playoff performance 4 years ago) in both games, resulting in 41 giveaways on the weekend. The Bulldogs have to feel fortunate to have come away with even the one win. I’m really interested to see if the Yale backcourt can rise to the occasion, particularly given the fatigue factor of the dozens of suicides they were likely required to run in practice this week.

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