It’s that time of the year again for Tiger fans. Time to get pumped for basketball season and time to flock en masse to Jadwin to watch the Tigers take on the team that looks ready to grab hold of the Ivy League. Bring out your trash talking Facebook posts, your crying Jordan memes, and anything else needed to send the other team packing. This year, it’s time to throw your energy at none other than… UPenn.
Wait… seriously? Princeton’s biggest game to date is a home matchup with the Quakers? Talk about a bit of a buzzkill. We get so excited to roast Harvard and Yale, but now we are going to have to spend extra time wrapping our head around a new opponent before we are able to throw some shade.
Haven’t thought about Penn basketball recently? It’s okay if you haven’t; neither have we. Over the last few years, Penn has become a bit of an afterthought because of how many times we have beaten them. This is a real shame considering how hard they try to make Penn-Princeton a rivalry. Last season saw an especially impressive effort from the Penn faithful. They managed to convince an entire league to let them host an inaugural Ivy Tournament and sneak into the fourth place spot with a LOSING RECORD only to try and do what no other Ivy League team — yes, no one — was able to do last season: Beat us. But yet, they tried. For the 11th time in 12 games, Princeton beat the Quakers and ultimately got the satisfaction of hoisting a never-before-seen trophy in the hallowed Palestra. Cheer up Penn fans, at least you got a good view.
But I digress. After all, this season the tables may have turned. While Harvard and Yale threw away everyone’s confidence with loss after loss during the non-conference, the spotlight turned to who would fill their shoes. Naturally, every sane person looked at Princeton as the team to do it. But the Quakers have rewritten the script, and now find themselves undefeated and in sole possession of first place. I can’t help but give the Quakers credit; I am shocked by this early season’s development and applaud them for getting to where they are now. But now it’s February, and it's time for the true winners to take over a game, a season, and a conference.
Let’s go back to that word “rivalry” for a second. When I think of rivalry, I think of Cavs-Warriors, Real Madrid-Barcelona, Falcons-Saints, etc. What I don’t think of is Penn-Princeton. Princeton-Harvard? Absolutely. Princeton-Yale? Probably. But Princeton-Penn? That’s kind of like saying you and your little sibling are “rivals.” Penn is that little brother that you have that always tries to talk smack and say they’re better, yet always ends up with their face in the mud after a fight. And Princeton? Well, we’re the ones that put him there. After a while, it starts getting kind of boring to beat up on your brother. Maybe you just ignore him for a bit, or maybe you leave entirely. In your absence, your little brother has tried to fill your shoes, getting a little stronger and thinking that when you come back, maybe they'll finally win a round or two. And sometimes they get the better hand. But where will they inevitably end up? With their face in the mud.
So give us our 3–2 conference record, give them the first place standing and give us a home game when half the school is preoccupied with eating clubs. But no matter what you give us, you can’t change the facts: Princeton is the big brother in this relationship and will continue to be until Penn can prove otherwise. Penn, maybe one day you’ll know what it’s like to win 11 of the last 12 games in your matchup. Maybe one day you’ll rise to the top of the standings and put us in our place. But until then, we hope you like the taste of your face in the mud.