Columbia men’s basketball head coach Jim Engles announced his team’s nonconference schedule on July 31, but it would be over a month before Columbia Athletics released the remaining 14 Ivy contests. With the schedule now complete, the Lions will look to use its 16 nonconference games as a springboard to the program’s first ever spot in the Ivy Tournament.
The highlight of the first half of the Lions schedule is an early season four-game tournament which includes a match against the defending national champions and a battle for New York supremacy.
Columbia will visit Virginia on November 16 and St. John’s on the 20th, as non-bracketed games in the Air Force Reserve Tip-Off Tournament. The team will then move to Mohegan Sun, taking on MAAC preseason favorite Rider in the opening round of the Springfield bracket. Depending on the results, the Light Blue could meet up with America East favorite Vermont in the final contest.
The best of the rest of the pre-Ivy slate will see the Lions visiting Patriot favorite Colgate, as well as Wake Forest of the ACC and Duquesne of the Atlantic 10. Of the five home games, the prime contest is a pre-New Year’s Eve match against Albany, the number two team in the America East.
Columbia has a challenging start to Ivy action, with 5 of the first 8 games on the road. The team will start the conference schedule, as it generally does, with a home-and-home series against travel partner Cornell. The first game will be at Levien Gymnasium on Jan 18 and the return match will be one week later at Newman Arena in Ithaca.
The Lions will stay on the road to take on defending regular season co-champion and Ivy Tournament title-holder Yale on the 31st before heading up to Providence for a game against Brown the next night. Two weeks later, the group visits Leede Arena to play Dartmouth and then travels south to meet Harvard, the other defending co-champion. The last time Columbia visited Lavietes Pavilion, the Crimson won a 98-96 triple overtime classic.
In between those road trips, the Lions welcome Penn and Princeton to New York.
Over the final three weekends of the regular season, Columbia will be home for two of them. The Lions will host the Bears, Bulldogs, Crimson and Big Green before a crucial road trip to Princeton and Penn the first weekend of March that could ultimately decide the team’s Ivy Madness fate.
Last season, Columbia went 10-18 overall and was seventh in the Ivy League with a 5-9 record. While the team started 1-7 in conference play, it finished 4-2 with two big road wins against teams that would make the conference tournament. One was a 79-77 overtime win at Penn and the other was a dominant 83-75 victory against Yale at the Lee Amphitheater.
The Lions lose Quinton Adlesh, Peter Barba and C.J. Davis to graduation. Adlesh, with one year of eligibility remaining, has chosen to play for USC as a graduate transfer. Engles will welcome a five-member class to Morningside Heights, but the biggest boost to the roster will be the return of senior Mike Smith.
Smith, the high scoring point guard from Illinois, was lost for the season after only eight games due to a torn meniscus suffered against Bryant on December 7. In 2017-18, he was named second team All-Ivy after he led the league in assists (4.6 per game) and was second in scoring (17.6 per game).
In addition to Smith, Columbia (Torvik rank #121) will rely on junior Gabe Stefanini and senior Patrick Tape to help secure the program’s first-ever trip to the Ivy Tournament. Stefanini, normally a two-guard, was moved into the point guard role following Smith’s injury. He responded with a second team All-Ivy effort, finishing his sophomore campaign with 4.1 assists (#1 Ivy), 13.8 points (#8 Ivy), and 1.5 steals (#4 Ivy) per game.
Tape, a 6’10” power forward from North Carolina, started 21 of 27 games last year, totaling 11.3 points (.667 shooting percentage), 5.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 steals per game In league play, where he earned an honorable mention distinction, he was even better with 12.4 points (.705 shooting percentage), 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.1 steals per game.
2019-20 Columbia Men’s Basketball Schedule
11/05 (Tue.) at Lafayette (Torvik rank #226)
11/09 (Sun.) at Wake Forest (#81)
11/13 (Wed.) vs BINGHAMTON (#350)
11/16 (Sat.) at Virginia (#18) non-bracketed game of Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament
11/20 (Wed.) at St. John’s (#148) non-bracketed game of Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament
11/23 (Sat.) vs Rider (#178) bracketed game of Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in Uncasville, CT
11/24 (Sun.) vs Vermont (#90) or Central Connecticut State (#345) bracketed game of Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in Uncasville, CT
11/30 (Sat.) vs LEHIGH (#277)
12/02 (Mon.) at Delaware (#261)
12/06 (Fri.) at Bryant (#295)
12/09 (Mon.) at Duquesne (#102)
12/22 (Sun.) at Colgate (#126)
12/28 (Sat.) vs MARIST (#331)
12/30 (Mon.) vs ALBANY (#153)
01/02 (Thu.) at Maine (#305)
01/08 (Wed.) vs MOUNT ST. VINCENT (Not Ranked)
01/18 (Sat.) vs CORNELL (#304)
01/25 (Sat.) at Cornell
01/31 (Fri.) at Yale (#193)
02/01 (Sat.) at Brown (#140)
02/07 (Fri.) vs PENN (#62)
02/08 (Sat.) vs PRINCETON (#97)
02/14 (Fri.) at Dartmouth (#149)
02/15 (Sat.) at Harvard (#19)
02/21 (Fri.) vs BROWN
02/22 (Sat.) vs YALE
02/28 (Fri.) vs HARVARD
02/29 (Sat.) vs DARTMOUTH
03/06 (Fri.) at Princeton
03/07 (Sat.) at Penn