Presumptive No. 1 Harvard once again had trouble with lowly MIT and won 73-64. What would a Duke-MIT score look like? Ugly, that’s what. Then the Crimson escaped at home against pedestrian UMass in overtime, 70-67, followed by another inexplicable loss to KenPom No. 252 Holy Cross, in which the Crimson had 23 turnovers to only 12 by the Crusaders. The Crimson then got bested by KenPom No. 215 Manhattan in a game in which Tommy Amaker equally inexplicably chose to start Henry Welsh, Danilo Djuricic, Reed Farley, Rio Haskett and Christian Juzang instead of 2016-17 All-Ivy first-teamer and Rookie of the Year Bryce Aiken and prime 2017-18 All-Ivy first-team candidate Seth Towns.
This was the season A two-bid Ivy. Mitch Henderson said it was possible preseason. The schedules aligned with some huge early-season games.
And the top of the Ivies were playing them, with the top as strong as ever. At least most of us thought that.
And then reality broke the glass.
No. 2 Yale can be excused. Perhaps no team in the country lost more than the Elis did this preseason, when they lost stud player Jordan Bruner to a meniscus tear and Makai Mason got hampered by a stress fracture. Yale beat Rutgers and Boston University in preseason scrimmages with Bruner. Without both, they fell badly on the road to two top 50 teams in Creighton and Wisconsin.
Princeton was finally going to win early-season out-of-conference contests, returning Ivy Defensive Player of the Year Myles Stephens, sharpshooter Devin Cannady and the versatile Amir Bell. The Tigers played lowly Big East Butler tough on the road but fell, 85-75. Then they returned to Jadwin against a BYU team which lost a lot from last season. BYU outplayed the Tigers in all phases but for rebounding and the normally placid Mitch Henderson picked up two technicals and got tossed en route to a 65-56 loss.
And Penn. Yes, the Penn team which took Princeton down to the wire in the Ivy tourney last season. Despite returning virtually their entire team sans the multi-talented Matt Howard, the Red and Blue fell to two teams it beat last season (Fairfield and La Salle), with Max Rothschild shooting 19 shots versus AJ Brodeur’s seven in Penn’s double overtime defeat hosting the Explorers.
Vastly improved Cornell lost by 32 in its annual sojourn to the Carrier Dome.
So what does all this say? For openers, only one Ivy is going to the NCAAs and will be relegated to, at best, an 11 seed. Will an Ivy smell the NIT? Maybe Yale, if Mason comes back strong.
How wrong some of us Ivy hoops zealots were, once again.