2018-19 Ivy League Preseason Power Rankings

Another college basketball season is upon us. So what can we expect from the Ancient Eight this season coming off a down year for the league overall?

With so much returning talent across the conference, anticipate higher quality of play from both the Ivies who make the conference tournament and those who don’t.

1. Harvard

The Crimson missed their two highest-usage players on offense down the stretch of the Ivy League Tournament final versus Penn at the Palestra: Bryce Aiken, who suffered a knee injury and missed 18 of the final 22 games of the season, and Seth Towns, who suffered a knee injury with around eight minutes left and did not return. Of course, Penn edged out Harvard in the end, the Crimson coming up just short in the face of the Red and Blue’s home-court advantage even without the 2017-18 Ivy Player of the Year (Towns) and 2016-17 Rookie of the Year (Aiken).

Harvard would have likely punched a NCAA Tournament ticket if it had those two standouts in tow, and they’ll probably do the same if they have them in tow this season.

If.

Read more2018-19 Ivy League Preseason Power Rankings

Penn basketball and the Palestra get a presenting sponsor

On Tuesday afternoon, Penn’s Dr. M. Grace Calhoun, director of athletics and recreation, held a press conference to announce that Penn Athletics secured a sponsorship with Macquarie Investment Management. The multi-faceted agreement is highlighted by the group’s presenting sponsorship of the men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as naming rights to the Palestra’s famed court.

Calhoun refused to disclose the length and value of the deal but noted the partnership is for several years and is the largest such agreement in the history of Penn Athletics.

Typically, a presenting sponsor attaches its name to a product. With respect to the “Cathedral of Basketball”, the hardwood will now permanently be known as “Macquarie Court at the Palestra.” Calhoun noted, iin response to questions from Jonathan Tannenwald of Philly.com and reporters form the Daily Pennsylvanian, that having a corporate name linked directly with the fabled arena was not an option. However, she did admit that the school’s famed football stadium, Franklin Field, and the Penn Relays could be considered for a deal in the future.

Read morePenn basketball and the Palestra get a presenting sponsor

Ivy League coaches’ roundtables: About the brand, not the players

In past years, the Ivy League office organized a teleconference call for the men’s basketball coaches, a few days after the preseason media poll. At those events, the coaches would talk about their teams, as well as answer questions from the Ivy League moderator and a small number of reporters. In addition, Reggie Greenwood, the league’s Coordinator of Officials, would discuss any rule changes for the upcoming season. This year, the league decided to do away with the call in favor of having roundtable conversations with the men’s and women’s coaches.

The two 30-minute videos, which were shot in New Haven on Sept. 5 (women’s coaches) and Sept. 12 (men’s coaches), focused on the general improved state of Ivy recruiting, the difficulties in scheduling nonconference games as an improved mid-major conference, the unique challenges in playing back-to-back Ivy weekends, the importance of the Ivy Tournament for late-season competitiveness, and the significance of the league’s partnership with ESPN.  What fans did not hear was anything related to the specific teams and players.

Read moreIvy League coaches’ roundtables: About the brand, not the players

What should we expect from Harvard this year?

Last year’s season was a mixed bag for the Crimson. The team emerged from spotty non-conference play to dominate the Ancient Eight, going 12-2 and sharing the conference title with the Quakers. Of course, Penn would go on to defeat Harvard in the conference tournament and earn the most coveted prize: a trip to March Madness.

The Quakers undoubtedly benefited from playing the conference tourney on their home floor, a built-in advantage that executive director Robin Harris has decided is worth the trade-off of hosting the Ivy League Tournament at the largest and most historic venue that the conference has to offer. However, while Crimson fans might be apt to cry foul, there is reasonable evidence that Penn was indeed the best team in the Ivy League.

Read moreWhat should we expect from Harvard this year?

Penn’s got a title to defend … and plenty of assets

A happy crowd. (Penn Office of the President)

As Ivy Hoops coverage dwindles across the digital world like Princeton’s winning percentage, I have returned to the dismay of many and the delight of few for yet another year of Penn Basketball coverage for IHO. Therefore, I will now channel another Philly hero, Sylvester Stallone, and pick up exactly where the team left off last season.

Read morePenn’s got a title to defend … and plenty of assets

Talking Ivy Madness with Ivy League Senior Assistant Director Trevor Rutledge-Leverenz

After holding the first two Ivy Tournaments at the University of Pennsylvania’s Palestra, it was widely assumed that the 2019 edition would move away from the league’s most famous arena. While the reviews for both events were positive from players, coaches, administrators and fans, there were some league stakeholders who had concerns. The main issues generally focused on the home court advantage for Penn, attendance problems associated with holding the tournament in the conference’s southern-most location, and the timing of the women’s semifinal match-ups.

On May 24th, a day before the start of Memorial Day Weekend, the Ivy League office announced that the third edition of Ivy Madness would be held on the campus of Yale University at the John J. Lee Amphitheater (JLA) at Payne Whitney Gymnasium. The tournament will occur on March 16th and 17th, in the middle of Yale’s two week spring recess, with the games taking place at the same times as the 2018 tournament. On Saturday, the men’s semifinals will tip-off at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., while the women’s games will start at 6 p.m. and approximately 30 minutes following the conclusion of the previous contest. The men’s final will be held at noon on Sunday, and the women’s championships will be at 4 p.m.  All tournament games will be televised by ESPN on its family of networks.

Read moreTalking Ivy Madness with Ivy League Senior Assistant Director Trevor Rutledge-Leverenz

Inside Ivy Hoops – Mar. 15, 2018

In the latest episode of Inside Ivy Hoops, Brett Franklin and Jill Glessner recap a wild and crazy 2017-18 reflect back on this season’s Ivy League Tournament and look ahead to next season’s tourney, with Columbia Athletic Director Peter Pilling and Ivy League Associate Executive Director for Strategic Communications and External Relations Matt Panto.

Jill recounts her Ivy League Tournament experience, and she and Brett weigh in on where the tournament should and could be held in the future, also recapping the highlights of the men’s and women’s league tourneys and why the Penn men still won even while losing as a No. 16 seed to No. 1 Kansas. Jill also explains why she thinks the Princeton women have the edge in their NCAA Tournament matchup with Maryland, the keys to the Tigers toppling the Terrapins, and whether she thinks the Ivy tourney will be back at the Palestra next season:

Read moreInside Ivy Hoops – Mar. 15, 2018

Princeton blasts Penn, 63-34, to clinch NCAA Tournament berth

On Sunday evening, the Princeton women dominated the Penn Quakers, 63-34, to complete a three-game season sweep of the two-time defending champions, taking the League Ivy Tournament title and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.  Coupled with their strong performance against Yale on Saturday night, Courtney Banghart’s squad left no doubt in showing which team is the Ancient Eight’s best.

Like they did against the Bulldogs, the Orange & Black were aggressive from the start.  Sydney Jordan hit a layup 49 seconds into the game and that was the beginning of the end for Penn.  The Tigers went out to an 8-0 lead before Michelle Nwokedi hit a three-pointer at the 5:55 mark. Princeton’s Abby Meyers came off the bench to score the next 11 points to open a commanding 19-3 lead at the end of the opening frame.  The Tigers defensive intensity led them to a 16-6 rebounding advantage as they held Penn to a 1-for-14 performance from the field.

Read morePrinceton blasts Penn, 63-34, to clinch NCAA Tournament berth

The “Penn”dulum swings, and the Palestra does too: Penn defeats Harvard to clinch first NCAA Tournament berth in 11 years

Penn basketball is back to the Big Dance.

The Red & Blue ended an 11-year absence from the NCAA Tournament by coming out on top in a see-saw Ivy League Tournament final at the Palestra Sunday, besting No. 1 Harvard, 68-65.

No. 2 Penn ended the game on a 13-7 run in the final 4:49, the decisive run in a game full of ups and downs for both teams. taking a 66-60 lead into the final minute before hanging on with two final Ryan Betley free throws with 11 seconds left that upped Penn’s lead to the final score. Two would-be game-tying three-point attempts from Justin Bassey and Christian Juzang missed the mark, and a partisan Penn crowd stormed the Palestra floor:

 

Penn had held a 48-35 lead with 14:06 to play and maintained a double-digit lead with under eight minutes left, but Bassey and Juzang willed Harvard back from the foul line and the three-point line, with Chris Lewis converting inside after a 3-for-10 shooting start.

Poor shooting helped put the Quakers in a 32-21 hole with just under three minutes to go in the first half.

Read moreThe “Penn”dulum swings, and the Palestra does too: Penn defeats Harvard to clinch first NCAA Tournament berth in 11 years

Harvard rolls over Cornell, 74-55, into Ivy title game

The Crimson entered the Ivy League Tournament semifinals as favorites over the fourth-seeded Big Red. This made sense. While Harvard arrived on a roll, Cornell needed a Yale overtime win against Princeton to even earn a trip to the Palestra. But after two hard-fought games in the regular season between these two teams and memories from last year’s tough Ivy Tournament semifinal lingering in Harvard’s mind, the game was far from a sure thing for either side.

Early on, both sides were jumpy and cold from the floor, especially Harvard. After the game, Tommy Amaker attributed this to nerves, but added that after a few shots went in, all that nervousness went away. He also noted the importance of Rio Haskett’s three-pointer late in the first half. In many ways, this shot, a Haskett wing three with 2:45 to play in the first half as the Crimson trailed by seven, was the turning point in the game.

Read moreHarvard rolls over Cornell, 74-55, into Ivy title game