The league title is theirs for the taking. Following a thrilling 2013-14 campaign that culminated in a trip to the Big Dance, the Crimson has re-established itself as the team to beat. Senior guard/forward Wesley Saunders has been terrific all across the board—he’s a legitimate two-way threat whom every coach mustgame-plan to handle. Moreover, of Harvard’s three losses, two have come against extremely high-caliber teams (Vanderbilt and No. 6 Virginia). These guys definitely are the favorites to represent the Ivy League come March.
As was expected, Yale seems to dwell in Harvard’s shadow. Currently holding the second-best record in the league, the Bulldogs are the most logical choice to knock Harvard off its throne as best in the Ivies. Yale’s victory over defending NCAA champ UConn might suggest it’s ready to make the leap over Harvard, but losses to a few less-than-stellar teams leaves this writer a tad uncertain. Ups and downs aside, one certainly can’t discount the great play of junior forward Justin Sears and senior guard Javier Duren, both of whom are picking up right where they left off last year.
The Lions nearly caused a nationwide storm by pushing the Kentucky Wildcats (arguably the best team in the nation) to their limit. That aside, despite having the third-best record in the conference, Columbia has yet to accrue any standout wins (or losses) for that matter. The most notable part of the Lions' season has been the stellar play of junior guard Maodo Lo—he leads the league in scoring and has alsobeen strong on the defensive end, leading the Lions in blocks and steals. Despite his work, Columbia is going to need production from other players if it is going to establish itself as a threat to reach the top of the conference.
After a rough opening to the season, the Bears have bounced back strong, coming out victorious in five of their last six contests. They’re putting up a solid season despite losing standout guard Sean McGonagill. Bruno has continued its commitment to the dirty work in the paint—the Bears currentlyboast the best rebounding average among Ivy League teams so far and the second-best average in blocks. This is in no small part due to the play of junior forward Cedric Kuakumensah, who’s making his case as the best big man in the league.To sum it up: Don’t expect Brown to contend for the top spot, but every one of its opponents better come prepared for a battle on the inside.
Dartmouth Big Green:
It’s pretty fitting that Dartmouth is around the middle of these power rankings. Nothing in its season has been particularly noteworthy so far; there doesn’t seem to have been much improvement from the returning players. The Big Green, however, has the chance to make a big statement on its home floor against Harvardthis Saturday. For a team that has spent recent years near or at the bottom of the conference, a win could be a great way to put the rest of the league on notice.
Despite a very strong finish last year, the Tigers haven’t opened up this season quite the way they’ve wanted to. The Jadwin Gymnasium residents definitely felt the impact of losing star guard TJ Bray’14, who led the team almost across the board statistically last year. Despite a somewhat slow start, the Tigers have the chance to get themselves going by getting a win over the lowly Penn Quakerson Saturday. The Tigers were prevented from reaching the Big Dance only by losses early on in Ivy League play. Wins early on might be the key to getting them their first bid since 2011.
Cornell Big Red:
There’s really nowhere to go but up for Cornell after a disastrous season last year. For reference, Cornell earned two victories all of last year, and this year, it already has six wins. Props to senior forward Shonn Miller, who has bounced back from a shoulder injury that kept him out all of last season and has been carrying the load for his team so far. His production is especially important as Cornell continues to struggle with shooting efficiency as a team (currently at the bottom of the league). Indeed, his excellent stats across the board look to be Cornell’s only chance to redeem itself and to remind the league that last year’s stinker was just an aberration.
I think the Quaker Oatmeal guy is more intimidating than the Penn basketball team at this point. Jokes aside, the Quakers' status at the bottom of the league shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that they finished seventh in the league last year. Moreover, they lost to graduation senior leadersMiles Jackson-Cartwright and Fran Dougherty, who really set the tone for the Quakers on offense and defense, respectively. It’s going to be a long road uphill for Penn, but if they can shock the Tigers awaythis Saturday, then there may be hope for this team after all.