Ivy Power Poll – Dec. 31, 2017

1. Princeton (7-7) 

The Tigers showed what they’re capable of by scoring the biggest nonconference upset among Ivies this season with a 103-93 toppling of USC in overtime. The Tigers blew a seven-point lead with 46 seconds to go in regulation but rallied in gritty fashion in the extra period, getting seven points from Amir Bell in overtime. Princeton got 30 points from Myles Stephens and 23 points from Devin Cannady, who played all 45 minutes. Stephens and Cannady posted nine rebounds each. But what was perhaps most encouraging about Princeton’s victory over USC was freshman Sebastian Much continuing to emerge with a 19-point, four-assist performance that he followed up with double-figure efforts in Princeton’s next two games against Middle Tennessee State and Akron in the Diamond Head Classic. The Tigers let themselves down at the free throw line in their 69-67 loss to MTSU, going just 14-for-23 (60.9 percent) there.

Read moreIvy Power Poll – Dec. 31, 2017

Princeton’s 12-day road trip ends on a high note

The Tigers capped off a hugely successful 12-day swing to the West Coast and beyond with a workmanlike 77-63 victory over the host Hawaii Rainbow Warriors Monday to conclude their their three games in the Diamond Head Classic. Only a two-point loss to Middle Tennessee State  in the tourney opener marred the Tigers road trip record of 4-1. Princeton finished its out-of-conference schedule at 7-7.

Read morePrinceton’s 12-day road trip ends on a high note

Fresh off USC win, Princeton to square off in Diamond Head Classic

The Tigers take Hawaii … and are slated to face Middle Tennessee State at 5:30 p.m. EST on Friday in the Diamond Head Classic.
(Princeton Men’s Basketball Facebook page)

On Friday, the Tigers open play in the Diamond Head Classic on the beautiful island of Oahu in the 50th state. Their first foe in a “three games in four days” format is the very strong Conference USA representative, Middle Tennessee State, a frequent Big Dance contestant.

Coming in with a record of 7-2, including wins over SEC teams Mississippi and Vanderbilt, the Raiders have their own version of the big three, Nick King, Giddy Potts and big man Brandon Walters. These three play a lot of minutes and score a ton of points. Middle Tennessee State is currently ranked 67th by the esteemed Ken Pomeroy, high enough to warrant a 65 percent chance to beat the Tigers (128th) on a neutral court.

Read moreFresh off USC win, Princeton to square off in Diamond Head Classic

Princeton upsets USC, 103-93, in overtime for biggest Ivy nonconference win of the season so far

The Tigers’ opponent was the preseason top 10 Trojans of Southern California, playing what the Los Angeles Times suggested was a tuneup game. The Tigers may have been offended by this evident lack of respect.

In any event, they responded with their best showing to date, dealing the Trojans a 103-93 beating in overtime. While the #2bidivy movement may not be relevant this season, the Tigers’ performance Tuesday night (and Wednesday morning Eastern Time) at Southern Cal shows why a second NCAA Tournament bid is inevitable.

The Tigers were in control for much of the second half after trailing by three at the end of the first period, 36-33. With under a minute to go in regulation, Princeton still held an 81-74 lead. Trading free throws for threes, the Trojans pulled within two with five seconds to go. A costly Tigers turnover on the inbounds pass resulted in a Trojans lay-in to tie the game at 86-86 at the end of regulation. Frankly, at that point, it looked like the visitors had run out of ammo.

Read morePrinceton upsets USC, 103-93, in overtime for biggest Ivy nonconference win of the season so far

Princeton men’s basketball aims for elite mid-major status

Heading into the 2016-17 season, many experts predicted that the Princeton Tigers would win the Ivy League title due to its senior leadership.  It was hard to bet against a team that would be starting Spencer Weisz, Steven Cook, Hans Brase, and Henry Caruso.  When Brase and Caruso went down with season-ending injuries early in 2016, there was cause for concern.  A slow start from starting guard Amir Bell only added to the growing worries for the Tigers.  However, the arrival of Devin Cannady and Myles Stephens into the starting lineup righted the ship and had the Tigers in great position heading into the Ivy schedule.  With first-team All-Ivy performances from Weisz (Ivy League Player of the Year), Cook (IHO Player of the Year), and Stephens (Ivy and IHO Defensive Player of the Year), along with strong performances from Cannady (Ivy and IHO Honorable Mention) and Bell, Princeton ran through the league with a 14-0 record, winning the regular season title by four games over Harvard.

Read morePrinceton men’s basketball aims for elite mid-major status

Harvard shines in Hawaii: How the Crimson did it and what it means

Lately, Harvard has been a completely  different team than it was back in November. After a close loss at Kansas and a nice win at Boston University, the Crimson traveled to Hawaii to partake in the 2015 Diamond Head Classic. The Crimson drew BYU in the first round. The tournament was a huge test for Harvard: would the Crimson revert back to its November self? Or would Harvard build on its two previous good performances and play well?

Read moreHarvard shines in Hawaii: How the Crimson did it and what it means

Exam Break Outlook: Harvard’s stock rising

With the Ivy season under a month away, the Crimson’s performance has been all over the map. At times, they show signs that this is just a rebuilding year, while at other times, they show great promise for current-year success. Regardless, coming off three consecutive well-played games, Harvard is indisputably a team that has improved significantly since the start of the season.

In my last article, I stated that Harvard’s success would be largely dependent on the success and maturation of freshman point guard Tommy McCarthy. Here’s some evidence that McCarthy has been key in Harvard’s recent streak of good games. In McCarthy’s first three Division I games, all games in which Harvard underachieved, McCarthy shot an abysmal 18 percent from the floor (6-for-34) and had 14 turnovers and only eight assists (.57 assist/turnover ratio). In his last three games, which have included a win over Boston University, a close loss at Northeastern, and a six-point loss at No. 4 Kansas, McCarthy has shot 40 percent from the floor (including 42 percent from beyond the arc) and posted 19 assists to eight turnovers (2.4 assist/turnover ratio).

Read moreExam Break Outlook: Harvard’s stock rising