Brown’s men’s basketball’s future is less clear than expected, but there’s still reason for optimism

Mar. 20, 2019: a sparse but committed crowd enters the Pizzitola Sports Center as Brown men’s basketball hosts a playoff game, its first in five years. Hosting the UAB Blazers, the event is part of the College Basketball Invitational, a minor national tournament. The event is meant to mark the end of a historic season for Brown. Though it ended in disappointment, the regular season yielded 19 wins, tied a program record, so the event should be fun and happy.

But the atmosphere is muted because the situation is more complicated than that.

Read moreBrown’s men’s basketball’s future is less clear than expected, but there’s still reason for optimism

Brown bows out of CBI with 81-63 loss at Loyola Marymount

Brown couldn’t extend its historic 2018-19 season with another win at Loyola Marymount, fading quickly in the second half en route to an 81-63 defeat in Los Angeles.

The loss dropped the Bears to 20-12 on the season, after Bruno already set a single-season record for wins and won a postseason tournament game for the first time in school history by topping UAB at the Pizzitola Sports Center Wednesday.

Read moreBrown bows out of CBI with 81-63 loss at Loyola Marymount

Brown defeats UAB, 83-78, in CBI first round for Bears’ first postseason tournament win ever

Eighty years after Brown’s appearance in the first ever NCAA Tournament, the Bears won their first postseason tournament game Wednesday night, also setting a program record for wins in a single season.

Brown defeated UAB, 83-78, at the Pizzitola Sports Center in the first round of the CBI, with senior guard and Ivy Defensive Player of the Year Obi Okolie extending his collegiate career at least one more game with a career-high 26 points on the strength of 7-for-14 shooting from three-point range.

Read moreBrown defeats UAB, 83-78, in CBI first round for Bears’ first postseason tournament win ever

Ancient Eight thoughts – Ivy Saturday men’s edition

Eight thoughts on the Ivy men’s basketball, which, per KenPom, gave us the highest percentage of games decided by three or fewer points or in overtime in all of Division I for the second straight season:

Crimson are No. 1 for a reason 

Harvard conquered its house of horrors, Levien Gym, 83-81, after an obligatory overtime period to claim its seventh Ivy League championship under Tommy Amaker and the No. 1 seed in the Ivy League Tournament. But is Harvard a vulnerable No. 1 seed?

Read moreAncient Eight thoughts – Ivy Saturday men’s edition

Ancient Eight thoughts: Ivy Friday men’s edition

Seeing it through 

Brown notched an outstanding 67-63 win at Jadwin Gym, hanging on after nearly surrendering a 60-47 lead with 2:17 left. Brandon Anderson was the best player on the floor off the bench, posting 21 points and three steals in just 28 minutes, his trips to the foul line and jumpers setting back the Tigers any time they got even a modicum of momentum. Brown’s defense shut Princeton down early and often, holding the Tigers to 0.79 points per possession and collecting a whopping 25 turnovers from the hosts.

Read moreAncient Eight thoughts: Ivy Friday men’s edition

Princeton bows to Brown, 67-63

A depleted and dispirited Tiger squad faced off with an amped up Brown Bear quintet last night at Jadwin. The Bears came in with a chance to play themselves into next week’s Ivy Madness. Their 67-63 wire-to-wire smackdown of Princeton sends them to The Palestra with their tourney aspirations very much alive. The winner of tonight’s Brown-Penn meeting will be in the tournament. Their wins on Friday night against teams already in the field eliminated Cornell, an ironic end for Brian Earl’s dreams on the night his Big Red defeated Harvard, the probable No. 1 seed.

The Tigers took their floor without Ryan Schwieger, their leading scorer over the last four games. He is reportedly “day-to-day” under concussion protocol. Of course, the season’s leading scorer, Devin Cannady, took a leave of absence from the university.

Read morePrinceton bows to Brown, 67-63

Cornell blown out twice in Yale-Brown road trip

A little more than two weeks ago at the halfway point, Cornell had a 5-2 Ivy League record and looked well in control of the fourth seed for the Ivy League Tournament. But after a home loss to Yale, and two consecutive road weekends that resulted in being swept, Cornell now sits at 5-7 and tied with Penn for fifth, a game behind Brown.

Read moreCornell blown out twice in Yale-Brown road trip

Looking at Ivy Madness scenarios with huge men’s games this weekend

This weekend, Yale, Harvard and Princeton can all clinch their spots in the 2019 Ivy League Tournament. With that happening, the other five teams still mathematically have a chance to get that fourth spot, but only three of those teams remain the most likely.

Columbia and Dartmouth each sit at 2-8 in conference play despite playing good basketball, but each becomes mathematically eliminated with a loss this weekend.

However, Cornell, Brown and Penn remain right in the thick of it. Cornell and Brown each sit at 5-5 with a matchup between the two on Saturday in Providence. Remember, Cornell won the first meeting between the teams. Penn sits at 4-6, desperately needing a road sweep this weekend but with a tough Harvard team in its way Friday.

Cornell and Penn will look to Columbia to help play a spoiler role to knock off Brown on Friday on ESPNU, and doing so would put Cornell and Penn in a more likely position to get the final slot.

Looking up top, Yale and Harvard will be all clinched with home wins on Friday, but they won’t come easy, playing Cornell and Penn respectively. Cornell winning at Yale Friday would be a huge boon and confidence-booster for the Big Red.

Princeton can get in with a win and Brown and Cornell losses on Friday, being the simplest way to do so.

Now let’s look at clinching scenarios for Cornell, Brown and Penn:

Read moreLooking at Ivy Madness scenarios with huge men’s games this weekend

Ancient Eight thoughts – Ivy Saturday women’s edition

Eight thoughts on the women’s side:

1. Aghayere on a rebounding spree

There was a whopping 77 points scored in the first half in Penn’s battle with visiting Cornell, featuring the Big Red’s No. 2 Ivy scoring defense vs. the Red & Blue’s No. 1 Ivy scoring defense. No. 1 eventually got the best of No. 2 as the game eventually settled into more of a grind-it-out struggle. Princess Aghayere posted a career-high 23 points and 10 boards, the fourth double-double of her senior campaign. Aghayere grabbed seven of Penn’s offensive rebounds, fueling a 15-6 scoring edge for Penn in second-chance points. Aghayere is one of three Quakers to rank in the Ivy’s top nine in offensive rebounding (fifth behind league-leading Eleah Parker and ahead of Ashley Russell in ninth place). If Penn goes to another 2-3 zone variation against Princeton tomorrow night, Aghayere will have to come up big on the boards as she did in Penn’s win at Princeton last month, when she snared a team-high 12 boards, limiting a Tigers squad that crashed the boards against the zone well that day.

Read moreAncient Eight thoughts – Ivy Saturday women’s edition

Ancient Eight thoughts – Ivy Saturday men’s edition

Eight thoughts on the men’s side:

1. Penn’s defense finds its stride

Penn held Cornell to 18 points in the second half and 0.78 points per possession for the night, an inspired defensive performance marking the latest glimpse of how high Penn’s ceiling can be when the defense is fully locked in. Matt Morgan’s usage rate was lower than usual, and Penn did a good job zeroing in on the second-all-time leading scorer in Ivy history. Morgan and company actually had a decent outing from beyond the arc (8-for-22, 36.4 percent), but it didn’t matter because everything else was effectively taken away. The Big Red typically thrive at the foul line, but Penn’s characteristically disciplined defense (the Quakers rank best in the Ivy League in defensive free throw rate) didn’t feed into that. Instead, Penn preserved its outside shot at an Ivy League Tournament berth, a feat only as realistic as its defense is strong down the stretch.

Read moreAncient Eight thoughts – Ivy Saturday men’s edition