The last time that Harvard lost at Lavietes was February 19, 2010, a 79-70 loss to Cornell almost two years to this day. Since then, the Crimson has racked up—after last night’s comfortable 69-42 win over Brown—26 consecutive wins at home, and they now trail only Kentucky (49 wins) for the longest home winning streak in the country (D1). In short, as Yale’s season lies in the balance tomorrow—Yale must win to continue any hopes of seizing an Ivy League title—the Bulldogs are traveling into one of the toughest road environment’s imaginable to make or break their season.
Coming into the weekend, Cornell and Princeton were arguably the hottest Ivy League teams. Both teams entered Friday night looking to capture its longest winning streak of the season after collectively dismissing arguably the two best teams in the conference, Harvard and Yale. Friday night, Princeton surged in the second half to top Columbia while Cornell faltered late and fell at the Palestra. Princeton, who has probably been the most inconsistent team in the league this season will have to put together a complete effort if it doesn’t want to find itself being swept by Cornell for the second time in the last three seasons.
The Big Green visit the Palestra tonight after losing yet another second half lead last night at Princeton. The freshmen continue to produce and get valuable court time, but the experience has yet to translate into victories for 0-7 Dartmouth. On the other hand, a frustrated Penn team held Harvard's most potent weapons to 1-15 shooting from the field last night and still lost 56-50. Zack Rosen took the blame for the loss, having shot 6-21 from the field. Penn will look to get back on the right foot tonight, while being in the uncomfortable position of having to root for rivals Princeton against Harvard. If the Tigers can pull the upset at Jadwin, all is not lost for Penn, as the Quakers would still control their own destiny, though it would of course necessitate winning at Harvard.
Yale vs. Columbia usually provides fans with a good show. Sometimes the games are meaningful, other times they are for nothing more than bragging rights among two teams separated by a 15 dollar Metro-North ticket which usually leads to a good crowd. This one does mean something. Despite the overtime loss in Ithaca, the Bulldogs are within two games of first place with Harvard still on the schedule one more time.
Yale may not come into Ithaca with the fanfare and national following that
will surround Harvard’s visit in three weeks, but James Jones’ squad is quietly getting things done. The Bulldogs have not won even a share of the Ivy League title since the 2001-2002 season, but are one of three remaining legitimate contenders to this year’s crown. The Bulldogs come into Newman Arena Friday night as hot as any Ivy team. Yale, winner of seven of its last eight, enters the weekend straight off its first sweep of Penn and Princeton since the 2006-07 season. Cornell on the other hand is right about where we expected. The Big Red sits at 3-3 in the league play, a half game up on Princeton for 4th in the Ivy standings. A solid showing at home against Yale and Brown will keep the Big Red in the upper half of the league, where Bill Courtney believes his squad belongs.
If there’s one thing Cornell knows all too well, it’s that it can’t sleep on the Dartmouth basketball team. A year ago, the two teams met in Hanover, a game that most thought Cornell would surely win. Despite the common prediction, the Big Red came out lacking focus and energy, resulting in its first loss at Dartmouth in the last six seasons. Out of all the tough stretches the Big Red endured last season, losing at Dartmouth was rock bottom. If we can use last year’s matchup to infer one thing about Saturday night’s game, it’s that the Big Red won’t be caught sleeping.
After a crucial 60-53 win last night against Penn (11-10, 3-1 Ivy), the Bulldogs (14-5, 4-1 Ivy) have the chance to make a serious statement about their title aspirations with another win today against Princeton. The good news is that the Bulldogs have some momentum coming into this game. In their last two outings, since suffering a humiliating 65-35 loss at the hands of Harvard, the Bulldogs have been absolutely stellar on the defensive end, having allowed only 53 and 52 points respectively.
This game contains the weekend's biggest title implications. Of course, a loss would be less dire for undefeated Penn, as the Quakers would still technically control their own destiny with a loss, but I think even the most optimistic of Penn fans are seeing a Harvard season sweep as a significant long shot.
Given the heightened significance of this game, this one should be really fun to watch. Yale’s guard play this last weekend was highly inconsistent, and the turnover bug bit the Bulldogs about as badly as I’ve ever seen (ignoring Jake Delhomme’s 6 turnover playoff performance 4 years ago) in both games, resulting in 41 giveaways on the weekend. The Bulldogs have to feel fortunate to have come away with even the one win. I’m really interested to see if the Yale backcourt can rise to the occasion, particularly given the fatigue factor of the dozens of suicides they were likely required to run in practice this week.
After Friday night's Bulldog bloodbath, first-place Harvard made the short trip up I-95 to Providence where a Brown team on its first winning streak of the season awaits. While the two teams enter this game coming off a win the night before, the similarities between the squads end right there. Harvard, as we all know, is the #23-ranked team in the nation with a top-ten defense (.874 points allowed per possession), an early season tournament title (Battle4Atlantis), and three victories against Top 100 teams (FSU, UCF, St. Joe's). Brown has the country's 290th best defense (1.082 points allowed per possession), hasn't even played a Top 100 team, and has zero Top 200 wins. But the Bears have a little momentum from victories over Bryant and Dartmouth, and in the last couple match-ups, they've had the Crimson's number for at least a half. Plus, it's the back end of an Ivy weekend, so anything's possible.
The Bulldogs are coming off of an embarrassing 65-35 beatdown to archrival Harvard in one of the most anticipated games to take place in the John J. Lee Amphitheater in quite a while. (Or at least one of the most anticipated games that Yale has played in.) Yale now has less than 24 hours to recover from the devastating loss to face another New England opponent eager to knock the Bulldogs off.