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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IHO Power Poll: January 30, 2012

Zack Rosen could not be stopped by Princeton on Monday night, leading the Quakers to a 82-67 victory and a 3-0 conference record. (Photo Credit: pennathletics.com)

Welcome to the fifth IHO Power Poll (based on games through 01/30/12). 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 (4-0), (18-2)- Harvard settled the score from last season in a shockingly decisive victory over Yale on Friday night. The Crimson’s suffocating defense (and numerous unforced errors on the Elis’ part) limited the Bulldogs to just 35 points, the lowest scoring output for an Ivy team since December 2007 (Princeton at Evansville). Harvard followed up that performance with a wire-to-wire victory at Brown to complete the road sweep and move to 4-0 in conference play. Offensively, the Crimson found production from a variety of places over the weekend. Sharpshooter Laurent Rivard went off for 18 points on Friday, and the next evening Kyle Casey led the way with 20 points. Freshman Steve Moundou-Missi, who continues to be a rock off the bench, chipped in 10 points and five rebounds against Yale and six points and 10 rebounds

against Brown en route to winning his first Ivy League Rookie of the Week award (the third different freshman to win the honor for Harvard). The title race is now decidedly stacked in the Crimson’s favor. Harvard has six of its next eight games in the friendly confines of Lavietes Pavilion, where it’s currently riding a 23-game winning streak, while attrition among the challengers begins in earnest next week when Princeton and Penn visit Yale.  -C. River Banks 

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Can Cornell Stop Mark Cisco?

Mark Cisco's 18 and 20 led Columbia to a Round 1 victory in the home-and-home against travel partner Cornell. This Saturday, the Big Red hosts the Lions for Round 2 in Ithaca. (Photo Credit: gocolumbialions.com)

The first thought Columbia’s second year head coach, Kyle Smith, expressed after defeating Cornell, 61-56 Saturday night was how true to form the play was of a typical Ivy League game. The biannual matchup between Cornell and Columbia takes the classic Ivy League mold Coach Smith was referring to and brings it to the next level. Every season for two weeks, Bill Courtney and Kyle Smith have nothing to worry about except game planning against its travel partner. There is so much film and so much time, that by game day, it’s nearly impossible to surprise or sneak up on the other. So was it really a surprise that round one of the Cornell-Columbia series ended up being a three point game with just twelve seconds to play? To Kyle Smith, not at all.

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IHO Power Poll: January 23, 2012

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Quite a scene in Hanover last week as #24 Harvard visited Leede Arena. Unfortunately for the New Hampshire faithful, Dartmouth was only able to muster 38 points in a Crimson rout. (Photo Credit: dartmouthsports.com)

Welcome to the fourth IHO Power Poll (based on games through 01/23/12). 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 (2-0), (16-2)- Harvard’s 54-38 win in Hanover, which moved the Crimson into a tie for first place, might not have been the most impressive performance of the week, but it did nothing to dispel the notion that Harvard is still the team to beat. The starting five managed a paltry 22 points against the Big Green, but what could have been a dire situation on the road was actually a comfortable blowout thanks to the bench’s performance. Freshman Steve Moundou-Missi continued his excellent play of late with nine points and four rebounds, and guards Corbin Miller and Christian Webster—both returning from injury—chipped in 13 and eight points on a combined eight of 10 shooting (five of seven from deep). The Crimson’s relatively light stretch comes to an end next weekend, as the stage is set for a clash of undefeated squads at Payne Whitney Gymnasium, the site of two crushing losses for Harvard a season ago.  –C. River Banks

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Ivy Offensive Rating Leaders

It's no secret around here that we love us some KenPom statistics. Being that we've got over half of a season of data, I thought it was time to check in with Pomeroy's Offensive Ratings to see who the most efficient players in the Ivy League are this season.

First off, let's look at the big-time players who are used in at least 20% of their team's possessions and play at least 40% of their team's minutes.

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IHO Power Poll: January 16, 2012

Penn is the biggest mover in our weekly Power Poll as Zack Rosen led the Quakers to an away sweep at Columbia and Cornell. (Photo Credit: pennathletics.com)

Welcome to the third IHO Power Poll (based on games through 01/15/12). 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.

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Game Preview: Penn at Columbia, Friday 7PM

Columbia's Mark Cisco needs to have a big game if Columbia wants to hold court against a dangerous Penn squad. (Photo Credit: gocolumbialions.com)

Penn visits Columbia on Friday night in the conference opener for both squads. Columbia enters the game having won 11 of their last 12, most recently traveling to Elon and knocking off the Phoenix 65-60. Penn comes in off of Tuesday’s 68-57 Big Five loss to La Salle. The Quakers are 4-5 in their last nine games.

Where they Stand

These two teams have just completed very different non-conference slates. Penn, at 7-9, has played a whopping eight teams in Pomeroy’s Top 100. The Quakers are 0-8 in those games, but five of the contests were decided by single-digits and Penn has largely taken care of business against opponents outside of the Top 100.

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IHO Power Poll: January 9, 2012 (Full Poll)

Harvard remains on top in IHO's Power Poll despite the Crimson's loss at Fordham and struggles at home against a young Dartmouth squad. (Photo Credit: chron.com)

Welcome to the second IHO Power Poll (based on games through 01/08/12). 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 (13-2), (1-0)- Harvard is still the class of the league, even though the Crimson have cooled off a bit since the rousing New Year's comeback victory over St. Joe's. A loss to lowly Fordham and 32 minutes of uninspiring ball against Dartmouth has brought this squad back to the pack a bit. A willingness to rely on the three when Casey and Wright are denied the ball in a zone has proved dangerous for the Cantabs, who surely will be confronted with more of the same going forward. The Fordham loss could be good for Harvard though, as any expectations of running through the league unscathed are a bit far-fetched. The league is deeper than ESPN and other major media sources have been letting on and with the Friday-Saturday grind of the season, players will inevitably get dinged up and legs will get tired. Harvard should still win the league, but chances are they'll be doing it with two or three losses in a conference where everyone is gunning for them.

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Common Opponents Analysis (Updated 1/4/12)

The transitive property is not the most reliable method for comparing teams, so despite what Elon says, we're not ready to put Dartmouth ahead of Princeton in our Power Poll.

With about six weeks of play in the books, we thought it was time to look back at the league”s common opponents to see if we could glean any knowledge from what”s happened on the court so far. Everyone knows that the transitive property carries limited weight in sports, but it”s still interesting to see how a team fares against multiple conference foes. Without further ado…

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IHO's Mid-December Power Poll

Harvard coach Tommy Amaker is probably dancing because his team is #1 in IHO's first Power Poll of the season. (Photo Credit: AP)

Welcome to the first IHO Power Poll (based on games through 12/16/11). 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.

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