This weekend will be a busy one for Princeton basketball. The men’s team (11–10, 3–3 Ivy) will be going on the road to Harvard (10–11, 5–1) and Dartmouth (4–15, 0–6) on Friday and Saturday night respectively. The women (14–4, 4–1 Ivy) are at home playing against the Crimson (13–6, 5–1) and the Big Green (12–7, 4–2) on Friday and Saturday night, respectively. Both teams are getting into the heart of their season and will reach or pass the halfway point of their seasons by the end of this weekend.
For the men’s team, this weekend is all about staying in competition for the top four to make the Ivy League tournament in mid-March. With the loss on Tuesday to league-leading Penn, the Tigers are now tied for third at 3–3 with Brown and Columbia, who will meet each other this Saturday night in Providence. This is Princeton’s first weekend road weekend trip of the Ivy League season, and opening in Cambridge will not be an easy first test as it tries to bounce back from consecutive home losses.
The Tigers should not be without confidence, as last year they got their first win at Lavietes Pavilion since 2010. Based on past history, a close game on Friday night is to be expected with last year’s two matchups getting decided by a combined five points, with a key factor being the lack of turnovers by Princeton. When the Tigers meet Dartmouth on Saturday night, do not let the record of the Big Green influence your perception that this will be an easy test. Dartmouth has shown the ability to shoot well from the floor, shooting over 40 percent in every game but three this season. Despite this, Dartmouth has struggled to keep up with teams that shoot well from beyond the arc, so look for the Tigers to try to exploit this matchup advantage against the Big Green.
The women’s team this weekend will face two other top-four competitors right now in key matchups for Ivy League tournament seeding. Currently, Harvard sits at No. 1 in the women’s rankings and Dartmouth sits at No. 4 just behind Princeton, who is tied at No. 2 with Penn, which the Tigers will play on Tuesday at Jadwin Gymnasium. Most important for Princeton this weekend will be its defense, especially from beyond the arc. This was a source of struggle for the Tigers last weekend against Yale, which shot 66.7 percent in the first half to gain an early lead from which it never looked back. Princeton’s defense improved against Yale in the second half, limiting it to 27.27 percent, and against Brown, which they held to 23.5 percent for the game. In addition to three-point defense, the Tigers will be looking for active hands to force more turnovers against a turnover-prone Dartmouth team on Saturday night.
After this weekend, the men will be facing four of their last six games on the road at Cornell University, Columbia, Yale, and Brown. Their last home weekend will be against Harvard and Dartmouth the weekend of Feb. 23. The women are in a similar situation, with four of their last seven still on the road playing at Cornell, Columbia, Dartmouth, and Harvard. If you are unable to make it to the women’s games this weekend, the team will be in action again on Tuesday against Penn at Jadwin Gym with tip-off scheduled for 6:30 p.m.