QUEENS, N.Y. – Brown mounted a furious comeback at St. John’s, cutting a 17-point halftime deficit to four, but the Johnnies tightened up its defense and L. J. Figueroa scored 11 points over the last eight minutes to send the Bears to its fourth loss in five games.
Ivy Hoops Online’s writing staff voted on where all eight Ivy men’s and women’s basketball teams would end up for the 2019-20 season. Our projected order of finish for the men (and the women’s rankings here):
Mar. 20, 2019: a sparse but committed crowd enters the Pizzitola Sports Center as Brown men’s basketball hosts a playoff game, its first in five years. Hosting the UAB Blazers, the event is part of the College Basketball Invitational, a minor national tournament. The event is meant to mark the end of a historic season for Brown. Though it ended in disappointment, the regular season yielded 19 wins, tied a program record, so the event should be fun and happy.
But the atmosphere is muted because the situation is more complicated than that.
In the final game of the Brown Bears Tip-Off Classic, the Army Black Knights went ice-cold from the field and Brown benefited, winning, 86-66. Brown improved to 3-2 with the win, and Army dropped to 1-4. Brown won all three games it played in the tournament, beating UMass-Lowell on Friday, 82-74, and Sacred Heart on Saturday, 82-77.
A balanced attack for the Bears saw five scorers in double digits, those being Brandon Anderson who had 16 points (4-of-8), Desmond Cambridge’s 13 (5-of-12), 12 each from Zach Hunsaker (4-of-7) and Tamenang Choh (3-of-7), and Obi Okolie’s 10 points as well (2-of-6). Tamenang Choh hauled in 10 rebounds to complete the double-double, and Joshua Howard was just two points short of a double-double as he also had 10 rebounds. Brown controlled the backboard, outrebounding the Knights, 49-33.
1. Penn (12-6, 3-0 Ivy)
It says a great deal that, in just his third season at the helm on 33rd Street, that Steve Donahue has turned Penn around to the point that it’s No. 1 in the Ivy Power Poll during league play.
Donahue’s predecessor’s predecessor’s predecessor Fran Dunphy and the Temple Owls still dealt Penn the 11th consecutive loss in the teams’ series Saturday, overcoming a 51-48 deficit with 4:02 to play at the Palestra. Penn went ice cold from deep (8-for-31, 25.8 percent) and notched just 0.81 points per possession against Temple’s stout defense.
This is part 1 of IHO’s 2017-18 Ivy League team-by-team season preview. Read part 2 here.
The rise of the Ivy League is projected to continue.
The Ancient Eight is slated by KenPom as the 13th-best conference in Division I this season, just seven years after it placed 26th. That’s a quantum leap, a product of the league’s bolstered recruiting in that time frame. The Ivy hoops status quo now consists of top-25 recruiting classes, Nike Skills Academy members and expectations of NCAA Tournament success.
There’s a three-way cluster between Harvard, Princeton and Yale projected to top the league. In the Ivy Preseason Media Poll, Yale received the most first-place votes (eight) but Harvard garnered the most points overall. Without a clear conference favorite, it’s quite likely that the regular season champion will not also be the conference tournament winner, with Bart Torvik’s Ivy Tourney Simulator tabbing Penn as the favorite in an Ivy tourney as a No. 4 seed.
Last season, the Brown men’s basketball team went 9-7 in nonconference action. The nine wins tied the program’s record for non-league victories with the 2001-02 and 2014-15 teams. The Bears’ 8-0 start at home was the best beginning since the 1934-35 squad. In league play, Brown appeared to get a boost of confidence from its nonconference schedule, dominating Penn and Cornell on the road and losing by one at home to Yale. With a 2-3 start in Ivy competition, the Bears were looking good for the fourth spot in the inaugural Ivy Tournament.
Unfortunately, Brown lost its next five matches, derailing its hopes for an upper division finish. Despite beating Dartmouth on the road to start the next to last weekend of the season, the loss to Harvard the following evening eliminated the Bears from postseason play. The team did bounce back in its penultimate game, beating Columbia by 20 and damaging the Lions’ hope for the league’s final four. A Senior Night loss to Cornell left the Bears with a 4-10 record (13-17 overall), tied for sixth in the Ancient Eight.
1. Princeton (8-6, 1-0)
See Toothless Tiger’s recap for game details, but the team’s 61-52 win over Penn proved they’re a resilient bunch. It’s not easy to withstand a 26-5 run from your archrival, but the Tigers did just that in the second half, hanging on with team-wide superior composure and characteristically clutch play from Devin Cannady. It was Cannady who broke the 44-44 tie following Penn’s gangbusters run and played outstanding defense alongside Myles Stephens down the stretch. Princeton’s defense is more than good enough to carry it to the league’s top slot.
Well, a Penn grad has finally ascended to the highest office in the land. Although most would argue that this is indeed our rightful place in the world order, our man in the White House is not quite what we, or anyone with a liberal arts education, expected. The Ivy hoops season is also a bit of a surprise (yawn), in that no one expected it to be this bad. There’s a frontrunner that keeps blowing late leads despite their aura of inevitability and too many blah contenders looking to get their act together by January.
For the first time in years, there appears to be no dominant team among the Eight. The favorites, HYP, have all had their early problems and the bottom half of the league is as bad, if not somewhat worse, than anticipated.
So without further ado, I give The AQ’s Special Post-Election Ivy Power Rankings. “It’s going to be yuge!!”
After winning on the road against Central Connecticut this Saturday, Brown basketball finds itself as the only Ivy League team with a winning record (5-4) heading into the first week of December. The Bears’ 75-58 victory was its best road victory since back-to-back wins against Providence and Central Connecticut State in December 2014. With its yearly rematch with the Friars scheduled for this Tuesday, it is worth spending time reviewing the first month of the Brown season before looking to the future.