Penn may have lost 80-69 to Villanova at Finneran Pavilion Wednesday night, but the final score doesn’t reflect the fairly even play between the Big 5 rivals, notwithstanding the strong finishes the Wildcats ended both halves on to clinch the win.
How reigning Big 5 champion Penn (5-4) hung with the Wildcats (6-2) is important.
One month into the 2019-20 season, the Princeton men’s basketball team is off to its worst seven-game start against Division I competition since the 1984-85 season, in which it started 0-6 and then 1-6 against Division I teams. The Tigers opened their 2019-20 campaign with five straight losses before finally shooting their way to a win at Bucknell last Saturday. Princeton fell flat in the second half against the Drexel Dragons Wednesday night and lost again on the road. The Tigers’ 1-6 start echoes the frustrations of the 1979-80 team, which also struggled out of the gate at 0-5 and finished the nonconference schedule with a 4-11 record.
However, that Tigers squad of 40 years ago scratched its way to a tie for the Ivy League title before falling in a playoff game by a single point to Penn. Can this year’s team come together in similar fashion once Ivy League play begins? Here is my assessment of what ails the Tigers at the halfway mark of the nonconference season.
Penn (23-6) 64 vs. American (22-11) 45
In a game between the regular season co-champions of the Ivy and Patriot Leagues, the Quakers dominated all facets of the game and ran away with a 64-45 victory. Penn jumped out to a 16-5 lead after one quarter and stretched it to 23 with just under a minute to go in the first half. American scored the first seven points of the third quarter to make it a 41-24 game, but that would be the closest they would get.
First Round (The Palestra, Philadelphia)
Penn (23-6, 12-2 Ivy, Regular Season Co-Champions) vs American (22-10, 16-2 Patriot, Regular Season Co-Champions)
Friday 7:00 p.m., Penn Athletics Facebook