Men's Basketball: Tigers 1st in Ivy sportswriters' poll
Who will win the men’s basketball conference title this winter? Princeton is favored to take the crown, according to the Ivy League sportswriters’ preseason poll. Representatives of all eight student newspapers, including The Daily Princetonian, tabbed the Tigers to win their second title in three years but expect strong challenges from defending champion Harvard and both New York schools.
1. Princeton (123 points, 13 first-place votes): Princeton earned 13 first-place votes, two second-place selections and a fourth in our poll. Senior forward Ian Hummer is the consensus preseason Player of the Year nominee, and Princeton is loaded in the frontcourt — but with Doug Davis ’12 playing in Germany and senior Jimmy Sherburne sitting out the year with injury, the Tigers are thin behind junior T.J. Bray at the guard positions.
2. Harvard (108, 2): The Crimson has been accumulating depth with its recent recruiting classes — and Harvard will need it this season. The 2010-11 Player of the Year Keith Wright graduated, and star forward Kyle Casey and point guard Brandyn Curry will miss the season in the wake of cheating allegations in a Harvard government class last spring. But proven talents like Laurent Rivard and Wesley Saunders should keep the Crimson in the title hunt.
3. Cornell (79): Cornell edged Columbia and Penn in a tight race for the third spot. Shonn Miller is the reigning Rookie of the Year, and Errick Peck will return after missing the 2011-12 season with an injury. But the Big Red’s offense struggled last season and will lose its two most efficient players, Chris Wroblewski and Drew Ferry. If Cornell makes a charge this season, it will likely be led by defense.
4. Columbia (77): The Lions were one of the most polarizing teams in the poll, receiving votes as high as second place and as low as eighth. Columbia should have plenty of offense — Brian Barbour is arguably the league’s top guard, while center Mark Cisco and outside shooter Meiko Lyles were efficient scorers last season. But will its defense, which was second-worst in the conference last season, be up to the challenge of contending for a top spot?
5. Penn (75, 1): Expectations for Penn are also all over the map, ranging from first to seventh in our poll. It will be impossible to replace all the production from graduated Ivy League Player of the Year Zack Rosen, but the energetic Miles Cartwright should step up and take charge of the backcourt. The Quakers don’t have a single senior on their roster, but The Palestra will see some interesting young players this year.
6. Yale (51): The last time Yale finished in the bottom half of the league was 2000, the first year of coach James Jones’ tenure. But the Bulldogs will have their work cut out for them this season, competing in a deeper conference without last year’s two leaders, Greg Mangano and Reggie Willhite. Sharpshooter Austin Morgan and center Jeremiah Kreisberg should take much larger roles in Yale’s offense, but its defense might suffer even more without Mangano and Willhite, who were among the league’s top stoppers.
7. Brown (41): The Bears went only 2-12 in conference play last year, but they’ll have many of the same players back this year; it could have been more if Andrew McCarthy wasn’t taking the year off. Sean McGonagill, one of the league’s top passers, could break out in his junior season, but the bigger problems will be on the other end of the court — Brown allowed a league-worst 70 points per game in Ivy play.
8. Dartmouth (22): Dartmouth relied heavily on several rookie forwards last season, and if those players make a leap forward in their sophomore year, the Big Green could escape the league’s basement for the first time in four years. But unless they become more accurate shooters from close range, it could be another ugly season for Dartmouth, which had the nation’s 10th-worst two-point shooting percentage in 2011-12.
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