IHO Power Poll: January 23, 2012

Brown hops into the top half in this week
Brown hops into the top half in this week”s Power Poll after the Bears” impressive home victory over Yale.

With the first round of the 14-Game Tournament in the books, we may be finally starting to see the slightest bit of separation in the middle of the league. The top three favorites all held serve in their openers and the Brown Bears, winners of three in a row, have come on strong to make a push for the top half in this edition of the Power Poll. The bottom four teams all look pretty flawed after picking up losses, but Yale and Cornell narrowly earn the 5th and 6th slots based on their slightly more efficient offenses and having at least one Top 200 win. Without further ado, let”s get to the poll:

1. Harvard (1-0), (9-6)- Harvard”s 60-50 loss at Memphis felt something like a win after the Crimson came all the way back from a 20-point deficit, even taking a brief lead with just over 6 minutes remaining. Of course, a 16-4 Tiger run to close out the game sent Harvard packing with an L, but there”s reason to be optimistic if you”re a Crimson fan. Saturday marked the sixth straight game that either Steve Moundou-Missi or Jonah Travis posted an offensive rating above 100. The two undersized big men have been sneakily effective against some pretty stiff competition since mid-December. If Moundou-Missi and Travis can stay out

of foul trouble (the duo averages 10 fouls per 40 minutes), this resurgence bodes well for a Harvard offense that faces five of the six worst Ivy defenses over the next three weeks. -C. River Banks

Read moreIHO Power Poll: January 23, 2012

Modest Expectations, but a Hint of Urgency in Hanover

To move the program forward, Dartmouth needs to grab more than one conference victory this season, a feat the squad hasn
To move the program forward, Dartmouth needs to grab more than one conference victory this season, a feat the squad hasn”t accomplished since 2009.

On most teams, when all but two players on the squad are freshmen or sophomores, there’s not usually a great sense of urgency. But make no mistake – there will be a sense of urgency in Hanover when Ivy League play begins on Saturday against Harvard. For the past three years, Dartmouth has stumbled to a five-win season, going 1-13 in the conference each year. And with a 3-10 record and one more non-conference game yet (a winnable January 17 tilt against D-III Colby-Sawyer), a fourth consecutive five-win season is looking like a distinct possibility.

Read moreModest Expectations, but a Hint of Urgency in Hanover

IHO Midseason Power Poll: January 9, 2013

The midseason IHO Power Poll has arrived just before teams dive into the dogfight that is conference play.
The midseason IHO Power Poll has arrived just as teams dive into the dogfight that is conference play. Did we shaft your team in the rankings? Let us know where you think we whiffed in the comments.

Believe it or not, the conference slate is merely three days away, and in some sense, that”s a bit of a shame because the Ivy League has really been cranking into gear over the last couple weeks, sticking it to some big conference squads. Wins over California, Bucknell, and Providence (among other impressive performances) have elevated the league all the way to 18th in the Pomeroy conference rankings and to 23rd in the conference RPI. While some had feared that in such a down year, the Ivy champ would receive a dreaded #15 or even #16 seed in the NCAA tournament, it now seems that the Ancient 8 king will earn a more palatable #13 seed, according to Joe Lunardi”s first edition of Bracketology, released January 8th. Furthermore, all eight Ivy teams have defenses ranked in the top 215

teams of Division I, but only three have offenses ranked in the top 215. With that in mind, we are going to buck convention and predict that offense wins championships as those three top 215 offenses make up our top 3 spots in this week”s Power Poll.

Read moreIHO Midseason Power Poll: January 9, 2013

Checking in on Dartmouth

Dartmouth looks to turn the corner as a program after winning its first D-1 road game in nearly two years at Longwood

last Saturday.

Through five games, Dartmouth is about where most observers pegged them to be record-wise. For the first time since 2004, the Big Green won its home opener, defeating Maine 67-54 on Nov. 10 before suffering a three-game losing streak, including a pair of double-digit losses to New Hampshire and Bucknell. The UNH loss was particularly demoralizing as Dartmouth shot just 16-of-60 (27%) from the floor while allowing 44 free throws at home on Nov. 13. While that loss was the low point of the young season, the last two games have hinted at the potential — both good and bad — that Dartmouth could bring to the table come Ivy League play.

Read moreChecking in on Dartmouth

IHO Power Poll: November 30, 2012

 

The first IHO Power Poll of the season has arrived! Harvard (barely) lays claim to the top spot for now, but things

are far from stable in the league.

After a wild and often depressing week in which the three league favorites looked downright flawed, I figured it was time to put together the first IHO Power Poll of the season and try to sort this situation out. Let”s get one thing straight: all eight teams have problems right now. If league play started tomorrow, there”s not a single result that could take place that would truly shock me. Dartmouth over Harvard? It could happen. Brown over Princeton? A hot shooting night for the Bears and it”s a wrap. I”m not trying to suggest that the league is upside-down, because it”s not. It”s just a very weak year at the top and in the middle, so we”re probably going to see some of the lower teams steal some games. As far as postseason aspirations go, that”s not a good thing, but for fans of the 14-game tournament, it should make for a lot of exciting basketball. Let”s get to the rankings:

1. Harvard (2-3)– The defending champions haven”t done much to deserve this top spot, but hey, neither has anyone else, so it belongs to the Crimson for at least another week. Vermont exposed Harvard”s defense, making the extra pass to get open looks inside and using simple screens to get open looks from deep. Over and over again. When it was all said and done, Harvard had allowed 85 points on 60% shooting. Rotations were too slow, closeouts were late, and the rest of the league received a nice blueprint for how to beat this young Crimson squad. On the plus side, Amaker still has a lot of time to get his guys ready for the games that count, and Siyani Chambers has proven himself to be a stud at point guard. Saunders has been impressive and Rivard continues to fire away from range (46%). They”re going to be okay– and this year, that might be enough.

Read moreIHO Power Poll: November 30, 2012

Weekend's Best: 11/10

The opening two nights of the college basketball season gave Ivy hoops fans a lot to celebrate. On Friday night, Harvard got the kinks out against a solid D-III squad in MIT and Penn mounted the greatest comeback in program history (!) to knock off UMBC at the Palestra.

On Saturday, the League kept rolling, as Cornell got great production from their guards, beating Western Michigan 80-75, and Princeton won a tight one on the road thanks to some late-game heroics, 57-53 over Buffalo. Yale came out firing against Sacred Heart in a late-afternoon matinee in West Hartford, and looked like they would

cruise to an early victory, but the Pioneers stormed back to force OT and dealt the Bulldogs a painful defeat, 85-82.

In the nightcap, Dartmouth won their first season opener since 2005, slowly pulling away from Maine in the second half at Leede Arena, 67-54, while

Columbia annihilated Furman in South Carolina, 68-47, behind a backcourt barrage. Here are the weekend”s best performances:

Read moreWeekend's Best: 11/10

Season Preview: Dartmouth Big Green

A young Dartmouth squad showed flashes of progress last year. They’ll try to take another step forward by moving out of the basement this season.

In 2011-12: 5-25, 1-13, 8th place

A Look Back: Dartmouth has been treading water for a while now, and the last three seasons have been eerily similar: a few non-conference wins, an Ivy home win towards the middle of the season and a whole lot of defeats. The Big Green has won just five games in each of the past three seasons and hasn’t won an Ivy road contest since February 21, 2009, when Ivy Player of the Year Alex Barnett led Dartmouth to victory at Princeton.

Dartmouth opened 1-2 before heading across the continent for the Great Alaska Shootout, falling to San Francisco and

Central Michigan but nabbing a win over DII Alaska-Anchorage. Wins against Elon and Longwood were the only other highlights from a losing non-conference season that mostly featured games against local competition – a 65-47 loss at Notre Dame on Dec. 10 being the notable exception.

Read moreSeason Preview: Dartmouth Big Green

Saturday's Best

Keith Wright and Kyle Casey shared a hug after Harvard clinched a share of the Ivy League title in a 67-63 win at Cornell. (Photo Credit: thecrimson.com)

Best (Share of) Title Clincher: While Harvard rode its big men on the block to a close victory on Friday, it was the Crimson”s perimeter play that won the game on Saturday at Cornell. Harvard shot 12-26 from three, led by four second-half triples from Brandyn Curry. Up 12 with eight minutes to play, it looked like the Crimson would be able to coast to a share of the conference title, but Cornell made a late 16-6 run behind Chris Wroblewski that got the Red within two at 57-55. Wroblewski missed a tough layup with 3:20 left though, and Cornell only managed two stops the rest of the way as Harvard got nine straight points from Oliver McNally to finish off the game (including another impressive 4-4 performance at the line). McNally led the Crimson with 17 and Curry added 12. Kyle Casey pitched in with 11, while Keith Wright had 8 points and 11 rebounds. For Cornell, Wroblewski had a great night in his finale at Newman, finishing with 19 points and 7 assists in the upset bid. Galal Cancer looked under control and more mature in his final game as a freshman, notching 8 points, 3 assists, and just 2 turnovers in 26 minutes against the league”s best defense. With the close victory, Harvard earns at least a share of the Ivy title. Crimson eyes will be glued to ESPN3 on Tuesday night as a Penn loss to Princeton will hand the Cantabs their first NCAA bid in 66 years. A Penn victory will force a playoff (most likely next Saturday at Yale from what we hear)

for the second straight year. Would Harvard”s 26-5 at-large profile with five Top 100 wins be enough to garner an at-large bid if Penn wins the playoff? The Crimson would prefer not to find out.

Read moreSaturday's Best

Friday's Best

Jeremy Lin and Spike Lee took in the riveting overtime contest between Harvard and Columbia Friday night at Levien Gymnasium. (Photo Credit: newsday.com)

A truly dramatic Friday night in the Ivy League ended with all the favorites pulling out victories.

Best Game: We were treated to a classic Ivy battle at Levien Gymnasium last night as Harvard prevailed 77-70 over Columbia in overtime. A packed gym that included Jeremy Lin and Spike Lee created a raucous atmosphere for a contest with massive title implications and the Crimson and Lions did not disappoint. Harvard jumped out to an early ten-point lead behind easy inside scores from Keith Wright and Kyle Casey. Late in the first half, Columbia settled down and started taking away the inside pass, creating turnovers that helped the Lions get back in the game. Freshmen Alex Rosenberg and Cory Osetkowski combined for 12 critical first-half points to bring the Lions within 34-30 at the half.

The second half was a back-and-forth affair as Harvard alternated between the block and the perimeter, showing their versatility. Columbia countered with Brian Barbour, who solidified his spot on the All-Ivy First Team with a jawdropping performance down the stretch against the League”s best backcourt defender in Brandyn Curry. Time after time, Barbour managed to penetrate, get to the bucket and finish from tough angles at the rim.

With four minutes to go, Harvard led 59-53. With Columbia on the ropes and needing a bucket, Harvard forced the Lions into a long possession. As the shot clock wound down, Cisco kicked the ball to the top of the key to Cory Osetkowski, the 6″10″ big man who had yet to hit a three all year. Osetkowski banked home the critical trey ball and Levien erupted. Columbia

added a Barbour jumper on its next trip down the floor before Brandyn Curry nailed a three to push the lead back to four with less than two minutes remaining. Columbia got it down to two and got the ball back after a Wright travel, and Barbour found a way to tie the game with another shifty drive. Harvard held for the final shot, but McNally”s three didn”t fall.

In overtime, the teams traded defensive stops for three minutes before Laurent Rivard and Kyle Casey hit two dagger threes that gave Harvard an advantage that they wouldn”t relinquish. The result was a clutch, hard-fought victory for Harvard, drawing them within one win of another Ivy title, and yet another heartbreaking loss for Columbia. Harvard now faces Cornell. A win gives the Crimson at least a share of the league championship, while a win coupled with a Penn loss to Yale would give Harvard the outright title and the NCAA bid. Columbia will host Dartmouth on Senior Night.

Read moreFriday's Best

IHO Power Poll: February 27, 2012

Harvard remains number one in our final IHO Power Poll by the narrowest of margins, but Zack Rosen's Quakers are charging hard in the rear-view mirror. (Photo Credit: pennathletics.com)

Welcome to the ninth and final IHO Power Poll (based on games through 02/27/12). 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 (10-2), (24-4)- Saturday’s loss to Penn was painful for the Crimson for a number of reasons—Senior Night, the home winning streak, the title implications—and it may grow even more so depending on the results of next week. In a matter of minutes, Harvard went from being assured of at least a share of the Ivy crown to potentially watching the NCAA Tournament from home. Credit Zack Rosen for carrying the Quaker squad, but the Crimson handed Penn the opportunity as a result of turnovers (11 in the first 12 minutes), mental errors (a length of the court layup with three seconds left in the first), and questionable personnel strategy (Corbin Miller on the court and Keith Wright riding pine). As nice as the win over Princeton was, the loss to the Quakers was far worse, and the specter of another traumatic conclusion is, for the first time, beginning to loom over Harvard’s dream season. -C. River Banks

Read moreIHO Power Poll: February 27, 2012