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Staff Picks: Men’s Basketball vs Yale, Round Two

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Yale defeated Princeton 70–64 when the two teams last faced off on February 2nd.
Photo courtesy of @PrincetonMBB/X.

“To win in March, you have to lose in February,” wrote associate Sports editor Hayk Yengibaryan in our last edition of Staff Picks, before correctly predicting that the men’s basketball team would fall to the Yale Bulldogs on Feb. 2.

While March is still weeks away, madness is most certainly brewing, and the Tigers are in need of wins. 


The Ivy League looks like it is going to be a three-man race as Yale currently sits atop the standings with a perfect 7–0 conference record, while the Cornell Big Red — who fell to the Bulldogs last week by just two points — sit just a game behind.

Enter the Tigers, whose only two conference losses came on the road to the Bulldogs and the Big Red. Far behind are the Columbia Lions in fourth place with a 3–4 record.

Despite having the league’s leading scorer in sophomore Xaivian Lee and top-performing defense across the season, the Tigers find themselves in something of a hole. After a historic 9–0 start to the season and a series of impressive wins, the Tigers two conference losses put them in what feels like a must-win scenario.

If the Tigers fail to beat the Bulldogs in Jadwin Gymnasium on Saturday, their hopes of winning the Ivy League regular season title will be slashed, and their road back to March Madness will grow that much more difficult.

For the Bulldogs, a regular season sweep of the Tigers — who stole a bid to March Madness from the Bulldogs last year in the Ivy League championship game — would position them as the far and away favorites to win the League, with Cornell their only concern. 

The stakes can’t get much higher for these two teams who have characterized the rise of the Ivy League in recent years, often at the expense of one another. Jadwin will certainly be rocking on Saturday at 7 p.m. for the Tiger’s most important game of the season to date.


ESPN Analytics gives the Tigers a 66.4 percent chance to win, but the Bulldogs have proven capable of staving off the Tigers — and they’ll undoubtedly be playing with confidence accordingly.

Associate Sports editor Hayk Yengibaryan ’26, assistant Sports editor Alex Beverton-Smith ’27, staff Sports writer JP Ohl ’26, and staff Sports writer Joseph Uglialoro ’27 offered their picks for this weekend’s contest.

Princeton 72, Yale 69 – Hayk Yengibaryan, Associate Sports Editor 

This is the most important regular-season game of the year for the Tigers. If head coach Mitch Henderson’s squad wants any chance of holding the one seed in the Ivy Madness Tournament, they must win on Saturday night. This year — with the three-headed monster of Yale, Cornell, and Princeton — the one seed is crucial. 

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One of the keys for the Tigers will be playing at home. The Tigers are undefeated at Jadwin Gymnasium this season, where they are 8–0 and have won their six games against Division I opponents by an average of 13.6 points. Last weekend, the greater Princeton community showed how much it supports the Tigers, selling out Jadwin Gym for the first time since 2001.

Before the Bulldogs play the Tigers, they have to play the Quakers on Friday night. With senior guard Clark Slajchert back for Penn, the Quakers are a completely different team. I expect Yale to struggle at the Palestra Friday night, coming into Saturday’s contest on tired legs.

Lastly, this is a revenge game for the Tigers. Just 13 days ago, the Tigers went toe to toe with the Bulldogs in New Haven, CT, coming up short in the final five minutes of the contest. This a special rivalry and none of these teams like losing at home. I expect Henderson to have a better game plan for containing Wolf inside the paint, with sophomore forward Caden Pierce being key in this game at limiting Wolf’s presence.

Senior guard Matt Allocco has averaged just 8.6 points over the past five games. Expect Princeton’s captain to have one of his best performances of the season when it matters most. The game will be tight most of the way, but sophomore star Xaivian Lee and Allocco will each score 20 to help the Tigers overcome the Bulldogs late in the game.

Princeton 74, Yale 72 – Alex Beverton-Smith, Assistant Sports Editor

This is a defining game for Princeton’s season. Just two weeks ago, Yale beat out Princeton in a back-and-forth contest on the road, and this game will be all about shooting for that one seed in the Ivy Madness tournament. 

The Tigers struggled to contain Yale forward Danny Wolf, allowing him to get a game-high 21 points. Don’t expect head coach Mitch Henderson to allow this to happen again, though. Princeton will be looking to start strong from the offset and try to battle through the inevitable tight game that this will turn out to be.

On Princeton’s side, expect sophomore Caden Pierce to play a pivotal role again, with his team-high points total of 20 last time around, he will be important on both ends of the court on Saturday night. Star sophomore guard Xavian Lee will also have another good showing, but the team’s leadership will come from senior guard Matt Allocco and senior forward Zach Martini. 

Luckily for the Tigers, this game comes at home where they are unbeaten. Having beaten Penn 77–70 in front of a sold-out crowd at home last Saturday, Princeton has a wave of momentum to ride coming into this game. Nevertheless, a loss could be devastating for the Tigers, so their stars really need to show up.

Princeton 68, Yale 63 – JP Ohl, Staff Sports Writer 

Princeton is top three in the Ivy League, and they are not one or two. Princeton has yet to prove to fans, critics, and most importantly, themselves that they deserve to hoist the Ivy League title and dance in March. This weekend is their chance. 

Against Pennsylvania, Princeton’s shooting behind the arc was impeccable, at 42 percent. This efficiency thrusted the Tigers to a comfortable win. There is no doubt the Tigers know how to win and protect Jadwin, being undefeated this season on their turf. One cardinal statistic to note for Ivy conference play: Princeton shoots 38.1 percent from three in Jadwin, that figure plummets to a measly 28.7 percent in foe territory. 

Against a seven-foot goliath, rebounds are not given, they are earned. Yale out-rebounded Princeton in round one, the column must be in the Tiger’s favor for round two. Sophomore forward Caden Pierce is an invaluable rebounding resource, currently second of all players in the Ivy League averaging almost 10 rebounds per game.  

Can Junior guard Blake Peters hit four or more threes on Saturday night? Can Zach Martini end with a double-double? Will Jadwin sell out for a second game? Will Sophomores Xaivian Lee and Caden Pierce do their job?

It is a rare occurrence that Ivy League basketball is given the national spotlight; however, ESPN understands the talent on the floor. Tune into ESPN2 to watch a marquee matchup that promises a 40-minute back-and-forth dogfight. 

Princeton 76, Yale 71 – Joseph Uglialoro, Sports Staff Writer 

After a disappointing loss to the Bulldogs in New Haven, Princeton will need to right the ship if they want a serious chance at winning the regular season title. That starts Saturday night when Yale will visit Jadwin for a heavyweight rematch. Princeton, bearing two losses in the Ivy League, needs a win to catch undefeated-in-conference Yale.

In their matchup this season, Princeton and Yale were somewhat evenly matched in most categories, with Princeton shooting at a higher clip from behind the arc and narrowly losing the rebound battle. The key difference between the two squads’ final stats was free-throw shooting. 

Princeton attempted (and made) just three free throws, a shockingly low number when compared to Yale’s 25 free throw attempts. Yale’s performance on these attempts was abysmal, shooting 52 percent from the charity stripe. However, their 13 made free throws still far outpaced Princeton’s three, a ten-point difference that more than covers the difference in the 70–64 final score.

For Princeton to take revenge in Jadwin, the Tigers will need to limit their own fouls and seek to capitalize on defensive mistakes by Yale. Their shooting and rebounding were adequate last time around, and a cleaner performance combined with their regular-season averages should be enough to take the return game. Viewers can expect Princeton to remain undefeated at home, moving to 9–0 in Jadwin and taking a massive step closer to the coveted first seed in Ivy Madness this March.

Hayk Yengibaryan is an associate editor for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’

Alex Beverton-Smith is an assistant editor for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’

JP Ohl is a staff Sports writer for the ‘Prince.’ 

Joseph Uglialoro is a staff Sports writer for the ‘Prince.’

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