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As league play reaches its midway point, the race for first place in women’s basketball is as tight as ever. While three teams are currently jockeying for first, the spot in the NCAA tournament could be nearly anyone’s game.

Penn Quakers (16-3 overall, 5-0 Ivy League)

The Ivy League’s 2014 representatives in the Big Dance are doing a good job of making their case for another shot at the title. Dominance on the defensive end has been their calling card. Sydney Stipanovich, the Ivy League’s Defensive Player of the Year, and teammate Michelle Nwokedi stand first and second in boards, respectively. In Ivy League play, this team has allowed a league-low 51.4 points per game and have held their last 4 opponents to below 50 points.

Cornell Big Red (13-7, 5-1)

Having not finished higher than fifth in the league since the 2007-2008 season, the Big Red looks like they are on track to reverse that trend this year. Nia Marshall continues to excel, leading the Big Red (and the Ancient 8) in scoring at 17.6 per contest in league play. Indeed, they’ll need her continued productivity as they face a critical matchup at Princeton this Friday.

Princeton Tigers (15-4, 4-1)

The Orange and Black will head into their Cornell battle on a high note, having just swept Dartmouth and Harvard the previous weekend. Their strong points remain the same as the previous year: dominant rebounding efforts (leading the Ivies at 46.4 per contest) and shooting efficiency (top of the league in field goal percentage). Behind the trio of senior guard Michelle Miller, senior forward Alex Wheatley, and senior forward Annie Tarakchian, the Tigers look to remain a threat to earn a repeat trip to the postseason.

Harvard Crimson (8-11, 3-3)

It’s been an odd start for the Crimson — it’s won all three Ivy League games on the road but dropped all its games at home (granted, two of those three were to Penn and Princeton). Certainly troubling is its defensive ranking, as it stands last in the league for points allowed. It’s a point that needs fixing if Harvard wants to break its recent history of playing runner-ups in the Ivy League battle for first.

Yale Bulldogs (11-12, 2-4)

After a promising start, the Bulldogs are looking to right the ship after dropping 4 straight games in league play. They’ve given up 71 points per game in that losing streak, more than 10 points higher than their season average.

Dartmouth Big Green (7-15, 2-4)

As with most years, Dartmouth has an uphill battle towards becoming relevant in the postseason race. Lakin Roland continues to be one of this team’s lone bright spots, as one of the Ivy League’s top five in both points and rebounds. Offensively, however, the entire team needs to step up — it’s dead last in points scored per game and second to last in field goal percentage.

Brown Bears (13-7, 1-5)

Though they picked up the win against the Columbia Lions, starting league play with five straight losses puts the Bears in a hole from which they may not be able to climb out. However, despite their woes this season, encouraging for the Bears has been the play of freshman guard Shayna Mehta, who has been the second-leading scorer for her squad this year at 12.2 points per game.

Columbia Lions (12-9, 1-5)

After finishing last year at the bottom of the barrel at 2-12, the Lions could very well be heading toward a similar finish this year. Granted, their losses in league play have been competitive — four of the six have had margins of seven points or less. Any chances of making a comeback in the league rest on the shoulders of Camille Zimmerman, who’s been stellar for her team with 16 points, eight boards, and 1.5 blocks per contest.

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