Why Harvard Will Win/Lose

Our favorite cranky Cantab-hating commenter sent us the following essay yesterday. 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. 

The Ancient Quaker is sick of all the talk about 2012 Harvard being the best Ivy team ever. How about Penn's 1979 Final Four team? (Photo Credit: blogs.dailypennsylvanian.com)

By The Ancient Quaker

Now that the preliminaries are finally out of the way, at last comes the make or break weekend for the Crimson. The hyperbole surrounding this team is insufferable. The sporting press has already crowned them champions since early September. Some have even dared to call this year’s Crimson the best Ivy team of all time. (No, that would be the third ranked (that’s 3) Quakers of 1970. If you don’t agree, there are plenty of other possibilities: Bill Bradley’s Tigers, Penn’s 1979 Final Four team or even the sixth-ranked 1967 Columbia Lions with Jim McMillan.) What’s more, earlier this week ESPN was trying to determine Harvard’s likely tournament seed. As amusing as these possibilities may be, to this I say not so fast. With the P’s coming to Boston in a few days anything can happen. As I have already made clear in a prior article, I am no fan of Harvard Basketball or of their unctuous coach Tommy Amaker. Nevertheless (for fun), I will posit why I believe the Crimson will win their first outright title. Then to be fair (and hopeful), I will suggest why they will fail.

Read moreWhy Harvard Will Win/Lose

Ivy Postseason Possibilities

Half of the Ivy League has a chance to play in the postseason with just four games to play.

With only four games to play, five Ivy teams have a good shot of finishing the season with a winning record. Unfortunately for Columbia, the bad computer numbers, lack of quality wins and disappointing conference record will keep the Lions off the court in mid-March. For the league”s top half, let”s take a look at what could be in store after the final Ivy weekend:

Harvard: The Crimson remain heavy favorites to win the league outright. A sweep at home this weekend would virtually end all doubt regarding Harvard”s ultimate March destination. A split that includes a victory over Penn would probably do the trick too. IHO says: The Crimson are headed to the Big Dance.

Penn: The 15-11 (7-2) Quakers have a pretty comparable profile to the second-placed Princeton team from 2010. Those Tigers (RPI #133) finished 20-8 with a significantly weaker strength of schedule as this year”s Quakers and were invited to the CBI, where they knocked off Duquesne and IUPUI before falling to Saint Louis. This Penn team is on track to finish in second in a significantly better league, has better computer numbers (RPI #108) , a Top 100 win in the victory over Saint Joe”s, and the draw of one of the country”s best point guards in Zack Rosen. If you”re a Penn fan with NIT hopes, you may be out

of luck. Last year”s NIT at-large selections had an average RPI of 67 with Nebraska squeezing in with the worst RPI at #89. The CBI, on the other hand, took teams with an average RPI of 119 last year. While the CBI is a bit more unpredictable with the pay-to-play format, Penn still seems like a good fit as a road team, or even a home team if they”re willing to put up the cash. IHO says: Zack Rosen and the Quakers will play on into March in the CBI.

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IHO Power Poll: February 20, 2012

Keith Wright's Harvard Crimson has been the wire-to-wire #1 team in the IHO Power Poll this season. (Photo Credit: thecrimson.com)

Welcome to the eighth IHO Power Poll (based on games through 02/20/12). 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 (9-1), (23-3)- Harvard took care of business this weekend with its best back-to-back performances in a month. A depleted Brown team did not put up much of a fight on Friday night, and the next day the Crimson weathered Yale’s best shot

to pull out a 15-point victory. Keith Wright was the leader on the court, averaging 11 points and nine rebounds in just 23 minutes per game, but Harvard got standout performances from Steve Moundou-Missi (14 points off the bench against the Bears) and Brandyn Curry (a season-high 18 points against the Elis) as well. Now holding a game-and-a-half lead over the competition, the Crimson can effectively wrap up its second Ivy title in as many years if it can beat the Killer Ps next weekend at Lavietes, where Harvard now owns a 27-game winning streak. -C. River Banks

Read moreIHO Power Poll: February 20, 2012

Saturday's Best

Brandyn Curry led the Crimson to a season sweep over Yale with 18 points on Saturday night in Harvard's 66-51 victory at Lavietes. (Photo Credit: thecrimson.com)

Best Domination of a Rivalry: Another efficient offensive performance from Harvard (1.22 points per possession) coupled with yet another lockdown defensive effort kept the Crimson in the driver”s seat. That”s 27 in a row at Lavietes and a season sweep of archrival Yale. This time, Harvard got out to a 35-15 first half lead, but Yale responded with an 11-0 run to close the half. The Bulldogs got within four early in the second half, but Harvard pulled away behind Curry”s scoring, Wright”s inside finishing, and Miller”s shooting off the bench.

For Yale, it was Mangano once again getting the buckets as the big man made it happen all over the court, knocking down 3 of 4 three point attempts and finishing with 22 points and 11 rebounds. A lack of depth hurt the Bulldogs (Mike Grace was not 100% after injuring his ankle) and Harvard did a great job of limiting Yale”s backcourt production. Austin Morgan and Reggie Willhite were held to 4-13 from the field and 15 points. For the Crimson, a balanced attack did the trick, though it was Brandyn Curry with

18 points and 5 assists leading the way. Wright finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds. It seems like we”ve had a game with serious title implications every weekend, and the Crimson will face one more when Zack Rosen and the 7-2 Quakers come to town on Saturday. One more sweep at home will virtually clinch the first solo title in Harvard history.

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Friday's Best

Mack Darrow's huge night off the bench helped lift Princeton over Columbia last night. (Photo Credit: goprincetontigers.com)

Best Second Half: Princeton rode a 50 point second half to an impressive 77-66 victory over Columbia at Jadwin. The Tigers limited Mark Cisco to 4 points and 5 rebounds, as Doug Davis notched 20 points and Ian Hummer added 16 to lead Princeton into the top half. The Tigers stuck with a short rotation of eight players and it allowed their guys to get in a shooting rhythm, as the team shot 51% from the field on the evening with all eight getting into the scoring column. The game was all tied up at 27 at the half, but a 14-3 run in the middle of the second half pushed the Tigers ahead to stay. Mack Darrow contributed 19 points off the bench (4-6 FG, 9-9 FT) in 26 minutes to provide an important spark. For the Lions, Brian Barbour continued to showcase his ability as a scorer with 22 points (5-12 FG, 11-13 FT), and Blaise Staab took advantage of the start by pouring in 12 points to go with 6 rebounds. Princeton takes on Cornell in a critical matchup at Jadwin tonight as the Tigers try to climb back up the standings.

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Game Preview: Cornell at Princeton

Chris Wroblewski is going to need to control the tempo if the Big Red are going to get back on track at Princeton tonight. (Photo Credit: cornellbasketballblog.blogspot.com)

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.

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IHO Power Poll: February 13, 2012

Fans stormed the floor at Jadwin Gymnasium Saturday night as Princeton knocked off previously unbeaten Harvard, keeping the league race interesting for at least one more weekend. (Photo Credit: dailyprincetonian.com)

Welcome to the seventh IHO Power Poll (based on games through 02/13/12). 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 (7-1), (21-3)- Harvard had the Ivy League all but wrapped up after winning at the Palestra on Friday. Then Saturday happened, and now it’s game on once again. The Crimson’s performance at Jadwin was very uncharacteristic. The Tigers torched Harvard’s vaunted defense for 1.11 points per possession, time after time finding easy buckets on backdoor cuts. Not only that, the Crimson’s normally reliable free-throw shooting allowed the game to slip away, as Kyle Casey missed four of five from the stripe (including the front end of a one-and-one) to watch a tie game turn into a five point deficit. Harvard will have a chance to regroup with its next four games at home, but, thanks to its 23rd straight loss at Princeton, the Crimson is no longer the only team that controls its own destiny. -C. River Banks

Read moreIHO Power Poll: February 13, 2012

Saturday's Best

Best Upset: Princeton. The Tigers made sure that there would be no undefeated champion of the Ivy League this year, defending Jadwin from the Crimson for the 23rd consecutive year,  70-62. This may have been the most unlikely of those 23 home victories, as the jubilant Princeton crowd rushed the court at the buzzer. It was a back-and-forth affair the whole way as Harvard led by five at the half before Princeton finally pulled away in the final four minutes. The Tigers had five players in double figures, led by Ian Hummer”s 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. Point guard TJ Bray had 12 points, while big man Brendan Connolly pitched in with 11 points and 6 rebounds. Denton Koon didn”t miss a shot, adding 10 points in 18 minutes (4-4 FG, 2-2 FT), and Mack Darrow rounded out the double-digit scoring with 10 to go with 5 boards. Princeton only missed one field goal and had one turnover in the game”s final five minutes. For Harvard, Keith Wright provided much of the offense, scoring 16 on 7-11 shooting, while Brandyn Curry had 15. Harvard yielded 70 points to an opponent for only the second time this season (Seattle scored 70 in a 80-70 Crimson victory back in early December).

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Friday's Best

Kyle Casey and Harvard won an ugly game at the Palestra to take full control of the Ivy League title chase. (Photo Credit: pennathletics.com)

Best Road Warrior: Harvard. It's not always pretty, but the Crimson continue to find a way to get it done behind great defense again. Wright, Rivard and Curry combined to go 1-15, but Harvard's depth saved them as Corbin Miller contributed 17 points in just 18 minutes. Kyle Casey dropped 15 points, while Wright was a vacuum on the glass, grabbing 13 rebounds. Penn didn't receive any of the home cooking that some expected from a raucous night at the Palestra as the Quakers were whistled for 23 fouls, while Harvard was only whistled for 12 fouls. After the game, Rosen delivered this quote: “Usually, I'm a 'we' guy. We win. We lose. I

felt like I was totally to blame. I didn't hit the shots that I hit in my sleep, the shots I take day after day.” Of course, Rosen is bound to be hard on himself, but the Penn star did not deliver on this night, scoring 16 points on 21 shots. Cartwright pitched in with 12 points, while Bernardini was held to 2 points on 0-5 shooting. Harvard's grip on the Ivy title tightens after this one, and a sweep tonight at Princeton would all but end the race with three weekends to go.

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IHO Power Poll: February 6, 2012

Oh hello there Tommy! Yes, your Crimson are ranked first again in this week's IHO Power Poll. But with a southern weekend swing coming up, there's no telling where we'll stand next week. (Photo Credit: philly.com)

Welcome to the sixth IHO Power Poll (based on games through 02/06/12). 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 (6-0), (20-2)- The Crimson protected its home court over the weekend to remain undefeated in league play. Harvard showed little sign of weakness against Cornell on Friday night, building a 14-point lead at the break and affording its starters some rest in the second half (the bench saw 40 percent of the court time). The light load proved useful the following night, as the Crimson had to grind out a 57-52 victory over Columbia. Despite 11 missed free throws, Harvard built an 8-point lead with a little over five minutes remaining, but two threes and a three-point play from the Lions left the Crimson clinging to a 2-point lead with 2:39 to go. But Harvard executed down the stretch, getting a pair of stops and hitting five of its final six free throws (the Crimson took 32 on the night compared to just eight for Columbia) to ice the victory. The home sweep carried Harvard to the top of the Ivy League standings and sets up a huge showdown with Penn at the Palestra this Friday. -C. River Banks 

Read moreIHO Power Poll: February 6, 2012