Ivy weekend roundup – Mar. 6, 2017

What a long, strange trip it’s been …

This has been a crazy season for Ivy League basketball, all 16 weeks of it. From Harvard’s starting the season 14 hours away in Shanghai to Penn’s regular season-ending triumph over the Crimson Saturday night, this season has been full of surprises and unusual trends.

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Tweak the Ivy League Tournament tiebreakers

That Penn win on Saturday night … I’m kind of speechless. I tried my best to capture the moment for CSN Philly, but that was just a stunner of an ending. As a Penn alum, that Jackson Donahue shot is something I will not forget for a long time. To be fair, even if I wasn’t a Penn alum, that game was a thriller to attend.

With that being said, I do want to raise one quick issue about the Ivy League Tournament. I will still gripe that it should be just three teams, but if that had been the case going into tonight, we would have been robbed of a pretty fantastic moment.

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Cornell 4.0 may just be the one

For Cornell’s first-year head coach Brian Earl, the 2016-17 campaign was going to have challenges typical to many new Ivy League coaches. In addition to bringing some new staff and a different playing style, the coach was not able to recruit any of his own players. With only one first-year coming to East Hill in the fall, the team was similar to the one that went 10-18 overall and 3-11 in the conference last year.

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Big Red’s big win in the Big Apple

While hundreds of thousands of people came to New York to protest Penn’s first-ever President of the United States on Saturday, the Cornell basketball team came to the Big Apple to challenge its own Ancient Eight foe.  Depending on one’s political views, the results for the marchers was inconclusive.  No matter which Ivy Leaguer one supported in the recent election, however, there was no disputing the Big Red’s victory in avenging their loss to Columbia one week earlier.

With the Columbia students back from winter break, Levien Gymnasium was packed and the crowd was ready for the Lions to move to 2-0 at the start of conference play.  With Robert Hatter, Cornell’s second leading scorer and primary ball handler, on the sidelines with a knee injury, things looked good for Columbia. Even with the loss of another starter, the Big Red looked calm and relaxed as the team completed its warmups. The Lions, however, appeared more serious as game time approached.

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Brown and Columbia make a move toward the other “final four”

With the first-ever Ivy League Postseason Tournament, the regular season has focused on which teams would make it into the top four.  In the preseason and the first two months of the campaign, Princeton, Yale and Harvard appeared certain to get to the Palestra for the second week of March.  The first two weekends of conference play has confirmed those ideas.  For most of the nonconference season, Penn seemed to take control of that fourth spot.  While losing to Princeton at Jadwin Gym on the opening night of the league schedule, the Quakers showed enough on the offensive and defensive sides to justify those predictions.  However, the Quakers’ two home losses this weekend showed that their path to the Palestra is uncertain and opened the fourth spot for all five lower division squads.  After Saturday’s action in Philadelphia and Ithaca, Brown and Columbia took strong steps towards claiming the last spot in the top tier.

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