2017-18 Ivy League team-by-team season preview, part 1

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.

Read more2017-18 Ivy League team-by-team season preview, part 1

Ivy weekend roundup – Mar. 6, 2017

What a long, strange trip it’s been …

This has been a crazy season for Ivy League basketball, all 16 weeks of it. From Harvard’s starting the season 14 hours away in Shanghai to Penn’s regular season-ending triumph over the Crimson Saturday night, this season has been full of surprises and unusual trends.

Read moreIvy weekend roundup – Mar. 6, 2017

Princeton clips Cornell, 75-60, clinches share of Ivy League regular season championship

ITHACA – The Tigers completed another sweep on the road, running their Ivy road record to 7-0 and league record to 12-0 overall. The current winning streak stands at 15, with two more contests remaining: Harvard and Dartmouth at Jadwin Gym this weekend.

Read morePrinceton clips Cornell, 75-60, clinches share of Ivy League regular season championship

Princeton extends winning streak to 11 games

After a weekend sweep at home against Cornell and Columbia, the Tigers have now played every other team in the league, Penn twice. With a perfect 8-0 record, Princeton is clear of the second-place Harvard Crimson and Yale Bulldogs by two full games and is in control of the No. 1 seed in next month’s Ivy League Tournament. The Tigers are easily within the top 100 teams as ranked by KenPom and  Sagarin, while Harvard and Yale are outside. It is doubtful that either team will leapfrog the Tigers, even if one or both of them finish the regular season tied with Princeton. The top seed is crucial for the team that gets it. If it’s Princeton, that means Yale and Harvard will play each other in the tournament.

Read morePrinceton extends winning streak to 11 games

Cornell 4.0 may just be the one

For Cornell’s first-year head coach Brian Earl, the 2016-17 campaign was going to have challenges typical to many new Ivy League coaches. In addition to bringing some new staff and a different playing style, the coach was not able to recruit any of his own players. With only one first-year coming to East Hill in the fall, the team was similar to the one that went 10-18 overall and 3-11 in the conference last year.

Read moreCornell 4.0 may just be the one

Big Red’s big win in the Big Apple

While hundreds of thousands of people came to New York to protest Penn’s first-ever President of the United States on Saturday, the Cornell basketball team came to the Big Apple to challenge its own Ancient Eight foe.  Depending on one’s political views, the results for the marchers was inconclusive.  No matter which Ivy Leaguer one supported in the recent election, however, there was no disputing the Big Red’s victory in avenging their loss to Columbia one week earlier.

With the Columbia students back from winter break, Levien Gymnasium was packed and the crowd was ready for the Lions to move to 2-0 at the start of conference play.  With Robert Hatter, Cornell’s second leading scorer and primary ball handler, on the sidelines with a knee injury, things looked good for Columbia. Even with the loss of another starter, the Big Red looked calm and relaxed as the team completed its warmups. The Lions, however, appeared more serious as game time approached.

Read moreBig Red’s big win in the Big Apple

Brown and Columbia make a move toward the other “final four”

With the first-ever Ivy League Postseason Tournament, the regular season has focused on which teams would make it into the top four.  In the preseason and the first two months of the campaign, Princeton, Yale and Harvard appeared certain to get to the Palestra for the second week of March.  The first two weekends of conference play has confirmed those ideas.  For most of the nonconference season, Penn seemed to take control of that fourth spot.  While losing to Princeton at Jadwin Gym on the opening night of the league schedule, the Quakers showed enough on the offensive and defensive sides to justify those predictions.  However, the Quakers’ two home losses this weekend showed that their path to the Palestra is uncertain and opened the fourth spot for all five lower division squads.  After Saturday’s action in Philadelphia and Ithaca, Brown and Columbia took strong steps towards claiming the last spot in the top tier.

Read moreBrown and Columbia make a move toward the other “final four”

Previewing Penn-Princeton and Harvard-Dartmouth

IHO breaks down the two games comprising Saturday evening’s Ivy conference play-opening slate:

Penn at Princeton, 7 p.m.

Last season: Princeton beat Penn twice by a combined three points, and the Ps’ last meeting at Jadwin Gym on March 12 put a scare into the Tigers, who were outscored 40-23 over the final 14:52 in a 72-71 victory over the Red and Blue. Princeton committed 16 turnovers, its highest amount in Ivy play last season, and then-freshman Penn guard Tyler Hamilton came out of nowhere to provide 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals in 37 minutes, easily the best performance of his Penn career.

Read morePreviewing Penn-Princeton and Harvard-Dartmouth

Ivy Power Rankings – Jan. 2, 2017

1. Yale (6-5)

Yale played just one game in the two weeks since the last Ivy Power Rankings, but it was indicative of the kind of performance coach James Jones may extract from his youthful roster come Ivy play. Freshman forward Jordan Bruner enjoyed arguably his best game as an Eli in Yale’s 83-77 loss at Temple, registering a career-high 15 points in just 26 minutes to go along with eight rebounds and four blocks, the third time in his six games that he has collected four blocks. Senior center Sam Downey nabbed 17 rebounds, including nine on the offensive glass, in 33 minutes. Yale committed only 11 turnovers and shot 16-for-19 from the free throw line, suggesting the prototype of a team that thrives on efficiency, superior rebounding and stout perimeter defense. The Elis also lead the conference in three-point field goal percentage, and Yale enjoyed a 3-for-8 long-range performance from freshman forward Miye Oni at Temple to go along with five assists versus just one turnover (not bad for playing his 11th game at a high-major).

Read moreIvy Power Rankings – Jan. 2, 2017

Leaving Las Vegas as the Running Red

After completing finals, Cornell headed west to take part in the Las Vegas Invitational. After a week traveling from Wyoming to Los Angeles to Sin City, the Red left with a 1-3 record and a small amount of optimism heading into the last stretch of nonconference games.

With the continued absence of starting center David Onuorah and no reported return date, coach Brian Earl decided to replace forward Donovan Wright with guard Troy Whiteside. With the four-guard set, the team decided to focus on winning games by improving its offensive output.

Read moreLeaving Las Vegas as the Running Red