Game Preview: Harvard at Brown

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Andrew McCarthy set a school-record for blocks Friday in a win against Dartmouth (7). Will he be able to lead the Bears to an upset against #23 Harvard? (Photo Credit: www.brownbears.com)

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.

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Game Preview: Harvard at Yale

Big men Greg Mangano and Keith Wright (not pictured) will battle Friday night to remain atop the Ivy League standings. (Photo credit: Google Images)

Although the Ivy League schedule includes 56 games, only a handful of those matchups end up deciding the title. Friday”s contest between Harvard and Yale is one of those games this year. The Elis entered the season as perhaps the top challenger to the Crimson, and, sitting at 2-0 (with the next four games at home), Yale is in perfect position to make its run. Harvard, meanwhile, can gain some separation from the other Ivy contenders if it can avenge last season’s loss at Payne Whitney Gymnasium. All eyes (especially those from Philly) will be on New Haven Friday night to see what shakes out in what amounts to the first chapter of the Ancient Eight championship race.

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IHO Power Poll: January 23, 2012

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Quite a scene in Hanover last week as #24 Harvard visited Leede Arena. Unfortunately for the New Hampshire faithful, Dartmouth was only able to muster 38 points in a Crimson rout. (Photo Credit: dartmouthsports.com)

Welcome to the fourth IHO Power Poll (based on games through 01/23/12). 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 (2-0), (16-2)- Harvard’s 54-38 win in Hanover, which moved the Crimson into a tie for first place, might not have been the most impressive performance of the week, but it did nothing to dispel the notion that Harvard is still the team to beat. The starting five managed a paltry 22 points against the Big Green, but what could have been a dire situation on the road was actually a comfortable blowout thanks to the bench’s performance. Freshman Steve Moundou-Missi continued his excellent play of late with nine points and four rebounds, and guards Corbin Miller and Christian Webster—both returning from injury—chipped in 13 and eight points on a combined eight of 10 shooting (five of seven from deep). The Crimson’s relatively light stretch comes to an end next weekend, as the stage is set for a clash of undefeated squads at Payne Whitney Gymnasium, the site of two crushing losses for Harvard a season ago.  –C. River Banks

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Game Preview: Harvard at Dartmouth, Saturday 7PM

John Golden and Dartmouth look to hand Harvard its first Ivy loss as the Big Green defends its home court Saturday night. (Photo credit: dartmouthsports.com)

Fourteen days since their last meeting, No. 24 Harvard and

Dartmouth reunite on Saturday to run back a 63-47 Crimson victory. Not much has happened since Jan. 7th. Harvard played two games, wins over Monmouth and George Washington, and the Big Green won its only matchup against a lowly Longwood squad. Little change means little reason to expect a different outcome this time around, but if the first weekend of league play was any indication, sometimes these games are bananas.

In their meeting at Lavietes, Dartmouth gave the Crimson all it could handle for 30 minutes. The Big Green was the aggressor early on, collecting eight offensive rebounds and limiting Harvard to 25 offensive possessions with a tight zone defense in the first half. But the Crimson adjusted in the second period, finding Keith Wright on the interior and kicking to Oliver McNally and Laurent Rivard on the perimeter. The trio accounted for 26 second-half points, and Harvard closed out the game on a 36-13 run.

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Ivy Offensive Rating Leaders

It's no secret around here that we love us some KenPom statistics. Being that we've got over half of a season of data, I thought it was time to check in with Pomeroy's Offensive Ratings to see who the most efficient players in the Ivy League are this season.

First off, let's look at the big-time players who are used in at least 20% of their team's possessions and play at least 40% of their team's minutes.

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IHO Power Poll: January 16, 2012

Penn is the biggest mover in our weekly Power Poll as Zack Rosen led the Quakers to an away sweep at Columbia and Cornell. (Photo Credit: pennathletics.com)

Welcome to the third IHO Power Poll (based on games through 01/15/12). 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.

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Harvard Outlasts Big Green

The Crimson defended its home court against Dartmouth's upset bid to kick off the 2012 Ivy season.

Harvard-Dartmouth will go down in the books as a 16-point Crimson victory, but for the first 30 minutes Saturday’s game did not have the look or feel of a blowout. The Big Green was every bit Harvard’s equal for much of the Ivy-opening contest.

Dartmouth borrowed from Fordham’s playbook on the defensive end by showing the Crimson a 2-3 zone for the majority of the first half. Once again this approach gave Harvard trouble finding its big men, as forwards Keith Wright and Kyle Casey combined to attempt just four shots in the opening frame. The Crimson settled for three-pointers, taking 10 of its first 18 field goal attempts beyond the arc and hitting just three. At the other end of the floor, the Big Green crushed the offensive boards, grabbing eight in the opening period to overcome nine-of-26 shooting from the field.

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IHO Power Poll: January 9, 2012 (Full Poll)

Harvard remains on top in IHO's Power Poll despite the Crimson's loss at Fordham and struggles at home against a young Dartmouth squad. (Photo Credit: chron.com)

Welcome to the second IHO Power Poll (based on games through 01/08/12). 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 (13-2), (1-0)- Harvard is still the class of the league, even though the Crimson have cooled off a bit since the rousing New Year's comeback victory over St. Joe's. A loss to lowly Fordham and 32 minutes of uninspiring ball against Dartmouth has brought this squad back to the pack a bit. A willingness to rely on the three when Casey and Wright are denied the ball in a zone has proved dangerous for the Cantabs, who surely will be confronted with more of the same going forward. The Fordham loss could be good for Harvard though, as any expectations of running through the league unscathed are a bit far-fetched. The league is deeper than ESPN and other major media sources have been letting on and with the Friday-Saturday grind of the season, players will inevitably get dinged up and legs will get tired. Harvard should still win the league, but chances are they'll be doing it with two or three losses in a conference where everyone is gunning for them.

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Game 1: Dartmouth at Harvard

Keith Wright and company are riding a 21-game win streak at home and a four-game win streak against Dartmouth heading into this Saturday's contest versus the Big Green. (Photo credit: thecrimson.com)

The rain has started to fall on Harvard’s parade, and it’s just in time for the 14-Game Tournament, which begins this Saturday when Dartmouth comes to Cambridge. The 60-54 loss to Fordham on Tuesday will bump the Crimson from the Top 25, likely for the remainder of the season, and will also certainly raise some second thoughts about a team that many had penciled in for a perfect Ivy record.

The Rams made it look relatively easy. They packed in a zone against the Crimson, and for some reason the No. 21/22 team in the nation could not adjust. Harvard forwards Keith Wright and Kyle Casey combined to attempt just seven shots, and the offense gravitated towards the perimeter where the Crimson launched 30 threes. Harvard managed to hit just eight of those attempts despite frequent open looks, with sharpshooters Laurent Rivard, Christian Webster, and Corbin Miller the greatest offenders, hitting one-of-eight, zero-of-five, and zero-of-three, respectively.

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Crimson Clip Hawks in Comeback Win

Kyle Casey scored 20 second half points to help Harvard overcome a double-digit halftime deficit against St. Joe's. (Photo credit: thecrimson.com)

After Saturday’s 74-69 win over St. Joes, Harvard assistant coach Yanni Hufnagel tweeted, “Best win I’ve been a part of. Period.” That statement—surprising as it is coming from a coach who’s helped engineer 56 wins for the Crimson—conveyed how richly satisfying the comeback against the Hawks was.

In a game reminiscent of last year’s 24-point comeback against Brown, Harvard withstood an unreal shooting display in the first half (19 of 24 from the floor, six of nine from deep). St. Joe’s guards Carl Jones and Langston Galloway and forward CJ Aiken had their way with the Crimson defense early on. Many of the buckets were the result of good offense (it seemed like the Hawks had success with post ups and kick outs in their four-out, one-in sets that dragged Keith Wright out on the perimeter), but more than a few just had me shaking my head in disbelief (long, turnaround jumpers from Jones were particularly crushing).

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