Weekend's Best: 11/10

The opening two nights of the college basketball season gave Ivy hoops fans a lot to celebrate. On Friday night, Harvard got the kinks out against a solid D-III squad in MIT and Penn mounted the greatest comeback in program history (!) to knock off UMBC at the Palestra.

On Saturday, the League kept rolling, as Cornell got great production from their guards, beating Western Michigan 80-75, and Princeton won a tight one on the road thanks to some late-game heroics, 57-53 over Buffalo. Yale came out firing against Sacred Heart in a late-afternoon matinee in West Hartford, and looked like they would

cruise to an early victory, but the Pioneers stormed back to force OT and dealt the Bulldogs a painful defeat, 85-82.

In the nightcap, Dartmouth won their first season opener since 2005, slowly pulling away from Maine in the second half at Leede Arena, 67-54, while

Columbia annihilated Furman in South Carolina, 68-47, behind a backcourt barrage. Here are the weekend”s best performances:

Read moreWeekend's Best: 11/10

Princeton, Penn Fall in CBI Quarters

Pittsburgh sprinted past Princeton in the CBI quarterfinals behind an explosive first half on Monday night. The Panthers shot 8-14 from three in the opening frame and rolled off a 14-0 run to close the half, providing the comfortable 49-25 lead at the break. While Princeton managed to cut the Pitt lead to 11 on a Hummer layup

with 7:19 to play, the

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huge deficit was too much to overcome as Pitt ended the Tigers” season with an 82-61 defeat. The night was not a complete downer for the Tigers though, as senior guard Doug Davis hit a three pointer with just 8:40 to play in his final game that pushed him into second place among Princeton”s all-time leading scorers. Davis finished his time at Princeton with 1,550 points, four points ahead of Kit Mueller. All-time Princeton leading scorer Bill Bradley scored a remarkable 2,503 points in his time as a Tiger.

Read morePrinceton, Penn Fall in CBI Quarters

Penn Advances in CBI; Yale Falls in CIT

Penn moved on to the quarterfinals of the CBI Thursday night, with a convincing 74-63 victory over Quinnipiac in front of a small crowd of 1,268 at the Palestra. Quinnipiac went ahead 5-4 five minutes into the game on a Zaid Hearst jumper, but Steve Rennard answered with

a quick three and the Quakers would never trail again. Penn”s backcourt had a monster night with Miles Cartwright dropping in 23 points, grabbing 9 rebounds, and dishing out 6 assists. Zack Rosen added 16 points and 9 assists. Perhaps most impressively, the two guards tallied only one turnover between them. Penn moves on to host Butler on Monday. A win against one of March”s winningest teams of the past few years would push the Quakers into the CBI semis, where they could be matched up against, you guessed it, the Princeton Tigers.

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Requiem for the Quakers

The Ancient Quaker laments the departure of ring-less Zack Rosen, the greatest Penn player he's ever witnessed. (Photo Credit: thedp.com/thebuzz)

Once again, we were lucky enough to hear from IHO commenting veteran, The Ancient Quaker. This time, the AQ closes the door on an exciting season of Penn basketball and evaluates the state of the program going forward. We hope you have a dictionary handy. The author of this piece is not affiliated with Ivy Hoops Online, but we always welcome and encourage commenters, outside contributors, and readers to share their opinions and thoughts. 

By The Ancient Quaker

I am OK. Thank you for your concern. Aside from a badly lacerated tongue and a rather embarrassing public loss of sphincter tone (both #1 and #2), I have been given the necessary intravenous anti-convulsives and all grand mal seizure activity has mercifully ceased. It feels good to be no longer foaming at the mouth and flopping on the floor like freshly landed mackerel. Although I am technically still post-ictal, I thought it only fair that I relate my feelings regarding Penn’s losing the Ivy title.

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CBI 1st Round: Penn hosts Quinnipiac

Rosen and the Quakers get their first shot at the postseason under Coach Allen as they host Quinnipiac on Wednesday night. (Photo Credit: pennathletics.com)

Penn has accepted a bid to the College Basketball Invitational Tournament and will host the Quinnipiac Bobcats in the first round on Wednesday night

at 7:30PM. Zack Rosen and Tyler Bernardini will get a well-deserved chance to play once more in front of the hometown crowd at the Palestra, and the underclassmen will get some helpful tournament experience. Quinnipiac

will be a tough opponent for the Quakers, as the NEC”s fifth-placed team led the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. The Bobcats are relentless on the glass, averaging 43 rebounds per game while playing at an average tempo. For dk – Denne side giver dig Iphone lobbyen, hvor du har oversigten over de spil du kan spille fra din Iphone. an undersized squad like Penn, it”s going to be a true challenge to compete on the boards. Quinnipiac is led by senior guard James Johnson and sophomore forward Ike Azotam, who is averaging nearly a double-double with 15.9 ppg and 9.5 rpg.

Read moreCBI 1st Round: Penn hosts Quinnipiac

Saturday's Best

Keith Wright and Kyle Casey shared a hug after Harvard clinched a share of the Ivy League title in a 67-63 win at Cornell. (Photo Credit: thecrimson.com)

Best (Share of) Title Clincher: While Harvard rode its big men on the block to a close victory on Friday, it was the Crimson”s perimeter play that won the game on Saturday at Cornell. Harvard shot 12-26 from three, led by four second-half triples from Brandyn Curry. Up 12 with eight minutes to play, it looked like the Crimson would be able to coast to a share of the conference title, but Cornell made a late 16-6 run behind Chris Wroblewski that got the Red within two at 57-55. Wroblewski missed a tough layup with 3:20 left though, and Cornell only managed two stops the rest of the way as Harvard got nine straight points from Oliver McNally to finish off the game (including another impressive 4-4 performance at the line). McNally led the Crimson with 17 and Curry added 12. Kyle Casey pitched in with 11, while Keith Wright had 8 points and 11 rebounds. For Cornell, Wroblewski had a great night in his finale at Newman, finishing with 19 points and 7 assists in the upset bid. Galal Cancer looked under control and more mature in his final game as a freshman, notching 8 points, 3 assists, and just 2 turnovers in 26 minutes against the league”s best defense. With the close victory, Harvard earns at least a share of the Ivy title. Crimson eyes will be glued to ESPN3 on Tuesday night as a Penn loss to Princeton will hand the Cantabs their first NCAA bid in 66 years. A Penn victory will force a playoff (most likely next Saturday at Yale from what we hear)

for the second straight year. Would Harvard”s 26-5 at-large profile with five Top 100 wins be enough to garner an at-large bid if Penn wins the playoff? The Crimson would prefer not to find out.

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Friday's Best

Jeremy Lin and Spike Lee took in the riveting overtime contest between Harvard and Columbia Friday night at Levien Gymnasium. (Photo Credit: newsday.com)

A truly dramatic Friday night in the Ivy League ended with all the favorites pulling out victories.

Best Game: We were treated to a classic Ivy battle at Levien Gymnasium last night as Harvard prevailed 77-70 over Columbia in overtime. A packed gym that included Jeremy Lin and Spike Lee created a raucous atmosphere for a contest with massive title implications and the Crimson and Lions did not disappoint. Harvard jumped out to an early ten-point lead behind easy inside scores from Keith Wright and Kyle Casey. Late in the first half, Columbia settled down and started taking away the inside pass, creating turnovers that helped the Lions get back in the game. Freshmen Alex Rosenberg and Cory Osetkowski combined for 12 critical first-half points to bring the Lions within 34-30 at the half.

The second half was a back-and-forth affair as Harvard alternated between the block and the perimeter, showing their versatility. Columbia countered with Brian Barbour, who solidified his spot on the All-Ivy First Team with a jawdropping performance down the stretch against the League”s best backcourt defender in Brandyn Curry. Time after time, Barbour managed to penetrate, get to the bucket and finish from tough angles at the rim.

With four minutes to go, Harvard led 59-53. With Columbia on the ropes and needing a bucket, Harvard forced the Lions into a long possession. As the shot clock wound down, Cisco kicked the ball to the top of the key to Cory Osetkowski, the 6″10″ big man who had yet to hit a three all year. Osetkowski banked home the critical trey ball and Levien erupted. Columbia

added a Barbour jumper on its next trip down the floor before Brandyn Curry nailed a three to push the lead back to four with less than two minutes remaining. Columbia got it down to two and got the ball back after a Wright travel, and Barbour found a way to tie the game with another shifty drive. Harvard held for the final shot, but McNally”s three didn”t fall.

In overtime, the teams traded defensive stops for three minutes before Laurent Rivard and Kyle Casey hit two dagger threes that gave Harvard an advantage that they wouldn”t relinquish. The result was a clutch, hard-fought victory for Harvard, drawing them within one win of another Ivy title, and yet another heartbreaking loss for Columbia. Harvard now faces Cornell. A win gives the Crimson at least a share of the league championship, while a win coupled with a Penn loss to Yale would give Harvard the outright title and the NCAA bid. Columbia will host Dartmouth on Senior Night.

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Postseason Projections

We're back with an updated version of Postseason Projections as four Ivy teams fight it out for a slot in a March tournament.

The top half of the Ivy marched on towards the postseason last weekend, as Penn and Yale picked up important sweeps. Penn”s huge victory over Harvard gives the Quakers are real shot at stealing the NCAA bid, while Yale now sits one win away from that 20-win mark that historically has meant an invite to play somewhere in March. (Only two teams hit 20 wins and were not invited to a postseason tournament last season, and neither had an RPI as high as Yale”s.) For Harvard, the upset loss at home means that the Crimson need to go to New York and get two W”s to ensure that, at worst, they”ll get a shot at revenge against Penn in a playoff. Princeton”s loss at Harvard all but ended their NCAA hopes, though a strong finish could still propel them onto the NIT bubble. Let”s look at what some smart people around the Internet are saying about Ivy postseason chances, and then I”ll give my updated projections on where each top half team will end up.

Read morePostseason Projections

IHO Power Poll: February 27, 2012

Harvard remains number one in our final IHO Power Poll by the narrowest of margins, but Zack Rosen's Quakers are charging hard in the rear-view mirror. (Photo Credit: pennathletics.com)

Welcome to the ninth and final IHO Power Poll (based on games through 02/27/12). 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 (10-2), (24-4)- Saturday’s loss to Penn was painful for the Crimson for a number of reasons—Senior Night, the home winning streak, the title implications—and it may grow even more so depending on the results of next week. In a matter of minutes, Harvard went from being assured of at least a share of the Ivy crown to potentially watching the NCAA Tournament from home. Credit Zack Rosen for carrying the Quaker squad, but the Crimson handed Penn the opportunity as a result of turnovers (11 in the first 12 minutes), mental errors (a length of the court layup with three seconds left in the first), and questionable personnel strategy (Corbin Miller on the court and Keith Wright riding pine). As nice as the win over Princeton was, the loss to the Quakers was far worse, and the specter of another traumatic conclusion is, for the first time, beginning to loom over Harvard’s dream season. -C. River Banks

Read moreIHO Power Poll: February 27, 2012

The Aftermath

Penn celebrates after a dramatic 55-54 victory pulled the Quakers even in the loss column with Harvard as the Ivy League enters its final weekend. (Photo Credit: boston.com)

Basking in the glow of last night”s Penn victory, the shameless anti-Harvard critic, devoted Penn supporter and loyal IHO commenter The Ancient Quaker weighs in on the altered landscape of the Ivy League standings this morning. The author of this piece is not affiliated with Ivy Hoops Online, but we always welcome and encourage commenters, outside contributors, and readers to share their opinions and thoughts. 

Let me begin with a retraction—the Columbia Lions are not a dangerous team after getting blown out by Brown.

Loyal followers of Ivy Hoops Online, if you need to know anything about The Ancient Quaker know this: The Ancient Quaker does not gloat. (Even though Harvard’s home winning streak has now passed in to history like so many illegal recruiting trips.) The Ancient Quaker does not revel in another team’s misfortune. (Unless of course that team resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.) And finally, The Ancient Quaker is above all not self-righteous. (But I told you so.)

Now excuse me a moment while I climb down from my high horse.

Read moreThe Aftermath