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’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

Penn men aim to repeat with the help of new recruits

Following an 0-6 start to Ivy play in 2017, the Penn men’s basketball team went 6-2 through the remainder of the conference schedule to claim the final spot in the inaugural Ivy Tournament. Despite having home court advantage and never trailing to undefeated Princeton during regulation, the Quakers could not find a way to close out the game and lost in the semifinals. Heading into 2017-2018, the expectations were that Penn, while not ready to challenge for the top of the conference, would build upon their immediate success and have a much more comfortable time at securing the four seed. The preseason media poll reflected this idea, with the Red & Blue being picked fourth with 88 points, 28 points behind third ranked Princeton and 31 points ahead of fifth place Columbia.

The Quakers entered the Ivy schedule at 9-5 with highlight wins on the road at Monmouth (in 4 OT) and Dayton.  However, Penn’s 85-72 home loss to Toledo (KenPom #113) on December 29th was a troubling way to enter the January 9th conference opener against the Tigers.  Penn put any concerns to rest, snapping an eight-game losing streak to Princeton on its way to a 7-0 start to the league schedule.  Following a loss at Harvard, the Quakers won its next four, including a three point home win against the Crimson.  A controversial last second 80-79 loss at Yale left Penn tied with Harvard going into the regular season finale.  A 99-93 over Brown gave the Red & Blue (24-9 overall, 12-2 Ivy, 1-3 Big Five) a share of the Ivy title, its 26th overall championship and first since 2007.

Read morePenn men aim to repeat with the help of new recruits

A turnaround to remember for Penn basketball under Steve Donahue

I must admit that there were times over the last 10 years that I began to despair.

Penn basketball has always been an essential part of my sports spectating life, and yet, inexplicably,
there was the “crown jewel” of Penn Athletics in shambles. For those of us who had always witnessed greatness on the hardwood from the Red and Blue, the past decade has been nothing less than a gut-wrenching, surreal descent into irrelevance and thus humiliation.

Read moreA turnaround to remember for Penn basketball under Steve Donahue

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

Penn basketball has got heart

The sudden resurgence of the Penn Quakers men’s basketball team has been one of the biggest stories of the Ivy League season. After an 0-6 start to conference play, including a four-game stretch where they lost by 12 at the Palestra to (preseason eighth-place) Brown, gave up an early 15-point lead in a defeat at Harvard, were upset by previously winless Dartmouth and got beat by 15 points at home to Princeton, many people (including this writer) were ready to write off the 2016-17 campaign. After the last two weekends, the team has regrouped and is now tied with Columbia for the final spot in the Ivy League Tournament.

Over the last four games, not only has the team played its best basketball of the season, the performances may have been the program’s most dominant in the last decade. The numbers that Penn has put up have been staggering.

Read morePenn basketball has got heart

Princeton switches it up on Penn – literally

I attended both of the Penn-Princeton basketball games, each time as a writer for CSN Philly (you can read my recap of game one here and game two here!). While that means I looked for more of a Penn storyline to write about, I was struck after Tuesday’s game by how revealing the blowout 64-49 win was for the Tigers (hence this article).
The first game was an unmitigated disaster in the first half with just two combined assists and a plethora of turnovers, but Princeton emerged with a double-digit lead and soon expanded said lead to 21 points in the early second half. From there, Penn made just about every three-pointer imaginable for a good 10 minutes and tied the game. The Tigers pulled away soon after, but it was an impressive display of shooting for a road team, especially with the much ballyhooed sight lines at Jadwin Gym.

Read morePrinceton switches it up on Penn – literally

Looking at Penn through Red and Blue-colored glasses

After two weeks of league competition, Penn has lost its first three contests, including two at the Palestra. The most surprising was a loss to Brown, the eighth-place team in the league’s preseason poll, which was Bears’ first road conference win in almost two years. (Brown very nearly upset Yale Friday night in Providence, but that doesn’t change Penn’s current 0-3 hole in league play.)

Looking at where things stand, were Quakers fans viewing the team through Red and Blue-colored glasses as the Ivy League slate began?

Read moreLooking at Penn through Red and Blue-colored glasses

For Penn, consistency, efficiency and discipline are the names of the game

Prior to the start of conference play, Penn coach Steve Donahue sat for an appearance on Penn Basketball Weekly. In the Penn-Princeton preview, the coach emphasized the main difference between the two teams in last year’s close contests was the fact that Princeton competed better. The Tigers made the necessary plays late, when the game was on the line. He felt that the Quakers had improved on that end, but Saturday’s result shows that Penn is just not at the Tigers’ level at this time.

Read moreFor Penn, consistency, efficiency and discipline are the names of the game

Ivy Power Rankings – Dec. 5, 2016

This one Ivy League season has been worthy of a shrug. The funk began when Yale junior guard and Ivy Player of the Year candidate Makai Mason was declared out for the season due to injury, and it deepened when it became obvious that Harvard coach Tommy Amaker had more tinkering than expected to do with his impact freshman-heavy roster. Preseason favorite Princeton, meanwhile, got clipped at Lehigh and is 0-3 against higher-ranked teams in KenPom. And league losses to Binghamton (Cornell), Army (Columbia), Longwood (Dartmouth), Navy (Penn) and Bryant (Yale) have suggested that the league has a lot of room for improvement. As a result, the Ivy League has fallen from 14th in KenPom’s preseason Division I conference rankings to 18th in just three weeks.

Read moreIvy Power Rankings – Dec. 5, 2016