With the non-conference schedule drawing to a close, the most important part of the season is set to begin as the men’s basketball teams in the Ivy League begin their quest for a league title and an NCAA Tournament berth. With the start of conference play less than a week away, we take a look at how the teams have fared so far this season:
Princeton (7-4): The Tigers went 1-2 over the holiday period, but will take encouragement both from a convincing win over Bucknell and two competitive losses against No. 6 Maryland and No. 13 Miami. In their toughest contest of the season so far, Princeton only trailed Maryland by four at halftime before the Terrapins pulled away in the second half. The Tigers followed up that loss with a 89-77 win over Bucknell behind 17 points from co-Ivy League rookie of the week Devin Cannady and a double-double from junior guard Spencer Weisz. Princeton was then tied with Miami with as little as six minutes left in the game before the Hurricanes went on a run to win the game. The Tigers will enter the conference season as a real threat to win the league, with the best non-conference winning percentage of the Ivy League teams so far despite one of the toughest schedules.
Columbia (9-6): The Lions have had the league’s top offense so far this season, averaging over 76 points per game. Led by the league’s leading three-point shooter in Luke Petrasekand fourth leading scorer in Maodo Lo, Columbia looks to be in good position to improve on last years 5th place finish in the league and challenge for the title.
Yale (7-5): The preseason favorites to win the league, the Bulldogs have enjoyed a strong start to the season as well, with all seven of their wins coming by 12 points or more. With forward Justin Sears, the reigning league MVP, and sophomore guard Makai Mason leading the way on offense and both averaging over 16 points per game, last year's second-place finishers will again be a force to be reckoned with in conference play.
Harvard (6-7): After losing star guard Siyani Chambers before the season, the four-time defending Ivy League champions face a tough task in trying to keep their streak alive. In an up-and-down start to the season highlighted by strong wins over BYU and Auburn and a surprisingly competitive lost against No. 4 Kansas, Harvard has allowed the second fewest points per game of any Ivy League team. Despite the loss of Chambers, junior center Zena Edosomwan, the league’s leading rebounder, and the rest of the Crimson aren’t a team that anyone else in the league will take lightly as they look to continue their recent dominance of the conference.
Cornell (6-7): Picked before the season to finish dead last in the league, the Big Red will look to exceed those low expectations behind the play of the league’s leading scorer, junior guard Robert Hatter. Despite his offensive prowess, however, Cornell will need to improve on defense, where it's currently allowing just above 77 points per game, if it wants to join the ranks of title challengers this season.
Penn (6-7): Last season’s bottom dwellers, the Quakers started the season strong before losing six of their last eight games. Penn plays a balanced game on offense, with four players averaging between 10 and 13 points per game, and will hope this depth translates into a much-improved league performance this season.
Dartmouth (4-7): In spite of a relatively easy non-conference schedule, Dartmouth has struggled so far this year, especially on offense where they average a league worst 66.5 points per game. However, the Big Green will take encouragement from the play of freshman forward Evan Boudreaux, who currently is in the top 10 in the league for both points and rebounds per game.
Brown (4-9): Behind a shaky defense that has allowed over 80 points in five of their 13 games, the Bears have endured a rough start to their season. Offense hasn’t been a problem, owing much to the impressive play of senior forward Cedric Kuakumensah. Nevertheless, Brown will have to clamp down on the other end of the court if they want to improve on last year's disappointing seventh-place finish in the league.