Pre-Season Ivy League Expectations: Clear a Spot on the Fridge

Sophomore guard Matt Morgan will look to lead the Cornell Big Red to a playoff spot in the Ivy League in 2016-17. (Source: American Sportsnet) (Header Photo Source: Princeton Athletics)
Sophomore guard Matt Morgan will look to lead the Cornell Big Red to a playoff spot in the Ivy League in 2016-17. (Source: American Sportsnet)
(Header Photo Source: Princeton Athletics)

Are you shaking with excitement like we are? Everyone should be excited for the season that is finally upon us.

The Ivy League has proved its significance in the college basketball landscape and is considered one of the better mid-major leagues. With the new development of the 4-team play-off, the League’s crown is up for grabs.

Here is a concise look at our predicted Ivy League rankings by season-end.

  1. Princeton Tigers

Can Princeton hold off the rest of the young teams in the league?

Coming off an NIT berth last season, the Tigers return their whole team, making them the clear favorites heading into the ‘16-17 season. A mix of talent and experience returns from a team that went 22-7.

This year can’t be much worse. We expect Princeton to be at the top of the Ivy League come playoff time.

  1. Harvard Crimson

How quickly will the freshmen gel  with the veterans in the system, and how much will they contribute?

The Crimson are looking to rebound from a disappointing season a year ago. Why are we ranking Harvard so highly? Coach Tommy Amaker has brought in the school’s best recruiting class, which includes four ESPN Top 100 recruits, and welcomes back star point guard Siyani Chambers from a torn ACL.

If anyone can get these seven freshman going, it’s Amaker.

  1. Penn Quakers

How far can this year’s back court take the Quakers?

Without many big departures on his hands, head coach Steve Donahue will look to navigate Penn into a playoff spot.

The Quakers are trending upwards, simply because there’s no other direction, after putting together one winning season in the last nine years. Coach Donahue knows the Ivy inside and out, and thus the strategies he’ll employ will propel his crew into the playoffs.

  1. Cornell Big Red

Who will step up and help senior David Onuorah manage the front court?

Cornell heads into the season with a new head coach, Brian Earl, and one of the best back courts in the Ivy League.

With the fourth seed a little less certain than the three above, look for the Big Red to sneak into the playoff conversation. Cornell guards will power the team through, led by Matt Morgan and Robert Hatter. Coach Earl will look for some front court dependability over the course of the year, and he could get that from versatile sophomore Stone Gettings.

  1. Yale Bulldogs

How will Yale replace two-time Ivy League Player of the Year, Justin Sears?

The Ivy League representative in the 2016 NCAA Tournament did not disappoint. An upset in the Round of 64 was all the Bulldogs needed to head home winners.

Star point guard Makai Mason opted to return to school for the 2016-17 season, withdrawing his name from the 2016 NBA Draft after declaring early.

However, it was announced earlier this week that he will miss the entire 2016-17 season due to an unfortunate, and untimely, foot injury (broken). With that, Yale’s stock dropped a few ticks from an expected 3rd-seed in the conference.

  1.  Columbia Lions

Who will step up in the back court?

New head coach Jim Engles takes over a team that won the CollegeInsider.Com Tournament last season.

Engles will have a lot of new talent to work with as he tries to keep the Lions near the top of the Ivy League. Freshman Mike Smith has our attention, as well as the rest of the Ivy League. Meanwhile, the Lions’ front court will have to drastically improve its performance in order to give this team a chance.

  1.  Dartmouth Big Green

The Big Green were too inconsistent last season. Which team will show up in 2016-17?

Sophomore Evan Boudreaux is coming off a record-setting freshman season, and should help new head coach David McLaughlin acclimate to the League.

Yet, the abundance of developing talent may not provide all of the octane necessary for an above-500 season.

  1. Brown Bears

The Bears’ forwards are a mess. Will good luck be sufficient?

The Bears have been stuck at the bottom of the Ivy League the last couple of seasons. This season’s team has the back court and the experience to take a stab at changing that.

There are shooters, that’s true, and look for coach Mike Martin to use four guards most of the time to compensate for front court deficiency. But, by early March, we do not expect the valiant efforts to move the needle. That will be next year.

We will see a bit of an inversion in the teams’ standings relative to last year, when Yale earned the crown and Harvard was fourth. The unusually high number of new coaches (Cornell, Dartmouth, and Columbia) will force upperclassmen to make some adjustments as the newcomers get accustomed to life in the NCAA.

So, folks, you read it here, and it’s footnote- and disclaimer-free. Dig out your tape dispenser and slap these expectations, with your own annotations, on the fridge.

– M. Roitman