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

2. Penn (9-2), (17-11)– Penn is rolling. Zack Rosen continues to will the Quakers to final-minute victories, as the senior point guard scored Penn”s final nine points in a

dramatic come-from-behind win at Harvard. But Rosen didn”t do it alone. In the end, it was Tyler Bernardini”s game-saving charge on one ankle that kept the Quakers in the hunt for their first title since 2007. Now, Penn returns home to take on Brown and a Yale team with a lot still to play for, before closing the Ivy slate at Jadwin against a Princeton team hungry to ruin Penn”s magical season. In all likelihood, Penn will need to win out as Harvard will be heavily favored to take care of business against the C”s. Even if the Quakers fall short of the Ivy title, Rosen and Co. have put themselves in great position to receive an invite to some postseason tournament with the Quakers now up to #94 in the RPI. I”m sure that”s the last thing on Penn supporters” minds right now though as Coach Allen has guided this undersized team to the brink of a stunning conference crown. -Bruno March

3. Yale (9-3), (19-7)- Lost in the fuss over Penn”s impressive victory was Yale quietly gaining a game on the league leaders with a convincing sweep over Columbia and Cornell. On Friday night, Yale and Columbia played an exciting game at John J. Lee as the Bulldogs let a double-digit lead slip away before holding on late behind the terrific trio of Mangano/Willhite/Morgan and some clutch bench play from freshman Brandon Sherrod. The next night, the Bulldogs routed Cornell by 31 behind lockdown defense and another big performance from Greg Mangano. The relatively stress-free weekend now gives way to a very meaningful trip south. A road sweep of Princeton and Penn combined with one Harvard loss against the C”s would give Yale a share of its first conference title in ten years. It”s a long shot, and the Elis haven”t been alive on the final weekend in quite some time, so there”s not too much pressure, and everything to play for. -Bruno March

4. Princeton (7-4), (16-11)- Bad news first: Princeton couldn”t seal the deal Friday night, coming tantalizingly close to a season sweep of Harvard that would have made the final weekend of the season SUPER DUPER interesting for the Tigers. But Penn made sure that Princeton would have plenty of reasons to get pumped up for the Ps” season finale at Jadwin next weekend. It”s a little bit of a damned if you do, damned if you don”t situation for the Tigers — beating Penn allows Harvard to win their first ever outright Ivy League title. But the chance to knock off an historic rival (and the team”s superceding will to win) means the Tigers want badly to knock off Penn and spoil Rosen & Co”s chance at the title. Plus, a win over the Quakers can only bolster Princeton”s postseason resume — and Tiger fans are hungry for a few more games in the Doug Davis era. -Spencer Gaffney

5. Cornell (6-6), (11-15)-  “They are who we thought they were!”

Beating the bottom, struggling against the top. Talented enough to steal a couple. Young enough and inconsistent enough to get blown out by teams they”ve already beaten.  With two left to play for the Red this year, there haven”t been many surprises. Although a 31-point blowout may not have been exactly what we expected from Cornell a night after a solid win at Brown, season splits with a pair of upper-echelon Ivy teams (Princeton and Yale) sounds about right. Clearly improved from last season the Red are a win over Dartmouth away from a .500 league record. In the toughest Ancient Eight in recent memory, fifth place ain”t too shabby. -Sam Aleinikoff

6. Columbia (3-9), (14-14)- The Lions fought hard against Yale on Friday, ultimately falling after an impressive comeback fell short. But the performance was encouraging as freshmen Alex Rosenberg and Cory Osetkowski combined for 23 points and 13 rebounds, while Barbour put in his usual work with 21 points. Columbia left New Haven hopeful to pick up a split against league doormat Brown, but ran into an absolute buzzsaw as the Bears struck gold from deep all night, blowing out the favored Lions on Senior Night in Providence. The disappointment of that lost weekend will disappear quickly if Columbia can play spoiler on Friday night against a suddenly desperate Harvard team. Levien should be packed for this one, and after playing the Crimson tough in Boston, no one should be counting the Lions out this time. -Bruno March

7. Brown (2-10), (8-21)- Wow! Where did that weekend come from? The Bears really hadn”t put together a competitive performance in weeks besides coughing up a late lead at Dartmouth. And then Dockery Walker almost single-handedly led them to an upset of Cornell with a monstrous 23 and 17 night on 10-11 shooting. The Red prevailed though 69-63. The next night, it was bombs away at the Pizz, as the Bears drained 14 of 22 threes en route to a 94-78 route of a Columbia team that beat them by 26 in New York a few weeks ago. The difference on this night was Sean McGonagill, who missed that previous game against Columbia with a concussion. McGonagill had 28 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists for the Bears, who sent off lone senior, Jean Harris (17 pts), in style. -Bruno March

8. Dartmouth (1-11), (5-23)- Friday night, Dartmouth teased Ivy fans with another potential upset, this time against Penn, before losing in Dartmouth-like fashion. The Big Green fought back from a seven-point deficit with under six minutes remaining (five points with under two) and had a chance to tie the game after Jvonte Brooks buried a put back and drew a foul with 12 seconds left. But the 78 percent free-throw shooter missed from the stripe and RJ Griffin’s prayer went unanswered at the buzzer, as Dartmouth fell 57-54. Another upset bid was not in the cards on Saturday when Princeton came to town and blew the doors off the Big Green in an 85-61 win. With just two more chances to grab a victory, Dartmouth is in the familiar place of finishing another 14-Game Tournament in the cellar. -C. River Banks


2 thoughts on “IHO Power Poll: February 27, 2012”

  1. It’s hard to think of Yale as still being in the race even though, mathematically, they are more than just alive — they are alive and kicking. But we know that, in the event of a three-team playoff, Yale absolutely, positively cannot beat Harvard to come out of that playoff. It’s not that the Bulldogs folded twice — they didn’t, although a thirty-point loss at home suggests something pernicious: Yale simply matches up horribly against Harvard.

    Even with two losses, Harvard is absolutely still the best team, but they match up worst against Princeton. If Harvard were to play the three upper division teams ten times each, the Crimson probably beats Princeton six times, Penn eight times and Yale all ten times.

  2. With a long weekend to go the Ivy League champion remains to be crowned, a state of affairs not many predicted at the outset of the 2011-12 season. Some knowledgeable observers argued, before the season began, that the Harvard team might be the League’s best…ever. And, while the Crimson have consistently topped the IHO power poll, four teams have contended credibly for the championship. The race might have been even tighter had Yale been able to compete at all against Harvard and if Princeton had found its moorings a little earlier under its rookie head coach. The Tigers did not play a D1 team at home for 71 days in the middle of the season; something one can’t imagine happening under Pete Carril. This season has not provided much ammunition to those who claim that Harvard’s recruiting practices require reform. Looking ahead, the top four teams will graduate their key contributors: Wright and McNally, Rosen and Bernardini, Mangano, and Doug Davis. Freshmen played significant roles for most teams, Cornell and Dartmouth in particular. The League may be more competitive than ever next year.


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