Ivy League Power Rankings – January 16th, 2017

Matt Morgan and the Cornell Big Red can string together consecutive strong possessions on offense, but it's their defense that is holding them back in 2016-17. (Source: Cornell Athletics)
Matt Morgan and the Cornell Big Red can string together consecutive strong possessions on offense, but it’s their defense that is holding them back in 2016-17. (Source: Cornell Athletics)

Conference play in the Ivy League play began this week.

While one loss used to eliminate teams from NCAA Tournament contention, this year is vastly different. With the inclusion of the Ivy League post-season tournament, after two, three, or even four losses, everyone is still realistically in the race.

  1. Princeton Tigers: 3-0 (Last Week: 2)

The Tigers have opened Ivy League play with three double-digit wins over Yale, Penn, and Brown.

After being voted number one in the preseason Ivy League polls, Princeton started off slow. Since their 4-6 start, the Tigers have been riding a six game winning streak leading them into their break. They don’t play again until Feb 3rd when they take on Dartmouth. Until then, they have solidified themselves as the top team in the Ivy.

2. Harvard Crimson: 1-0 (Last Week: 1)

Harvard began league play with a win over the struggling Dartmouth Big Green, a game in which they turned the ball over just nine times, their best mark this season.

Freshman Bryce Aiken has been leading the way for Harvard, averaging a team high 13.6 points-per game. The Crimson will get another look at Dartmouth on Saturday as they continue to ease themselves into league play.

3. Yale Bulldogs: 1-1 (Last Week: 3)

Yale finished out non-conference play looking like one of the League’s best teams.

The Bulldogs lead the Ivy League in assists and rebounds per game, so their 1-1 record will only improve. A tough loss to the League favorite, Princeton, is not worth too much preoccupation. Sophomore guard Alex Copeland leads the team with 13.8 points per game. The Bulldogs will take on Brown this week and look to get back on track.

4. Columbia Lions 1-0 (Last Week: 5)

Columbia improved to 7-7 on the season, and 1-0 in Ivy League play, with a nail-biting win over the Cornell Big Red last week.

The Lions forced a key turnover with eight seconds left to seal their victory at Newman Arena. Luke Petrasek led all scorers with a career-high 31 points. Mike Smith and Nate Hickman, together with Petrasek, accounted for 80 percent of the team’s points and will need to continue their collective success going forward.

Coming off a 25-win season, the Lions, one step at a time, will look to get back to that mark.

5. Brown Bears 1-1 (Last Week: 6)

Brown has surprised everybody this season, especially after being picked last in all the preseason polls.

After going 9-7 throughout their non-conference schedule, the Bears have opened conference play by splitting their first two games.

A tough loss to Princeton was expected. Brown might be on the rise, but to beat Princeton the Bears will need some more development. Though, an 8-point win at Penn was a step in the right direction. They shot nearly 50 percent from the field and continued their lights-out free throw shooting, hitting 92 percent of their twenty-six attempts. Keep an eye on this aggressive Bears team, as they have the right balance of veterans and underclassmen to build on their success.

6. Penn Quakers 0-3 (Last Week: 4)

After starting the season 6-5 and looking like a candidate to take the fourth spot in the Ivy League tournament, the Quakers have kicked off league play by dropping their first three.

Losses to Princeton and Yale aren’t bad losses, but they show that Penn cannot compete with the League’s top teams just yet. Penn sits only ahead of Dartmouth in points per game. The Quakers resume league play February 3rd against Harvard.

7. Cornell Big Red 0-1 (Last Week: 7)

A tough last-second loss to Colombia highlighted the Big Red’s early season struggles.

The loss extends Cornell’s Ivy League opener losing streak to seven. Matt Morgan has led the way for Cornell, averaging 18.4 points per game, which is also tops in the Ivy League.

The question mark going forward for the offensively-sound Big Red is defense. Cornell gives up the highest 3-point percentage to its League opponents. Ironically, they also lead the league in three pointers attempted and made per game. So, defending the three should be much easier than it has been. The outside shot, in some way, will guide the Big Red throughout league play. Which way it takes them is yet to be known.

8. Dartmouth Big Green 0-1 (Last Week: 8)

The developing Big Green fell 74-58 to the powerful Harvard.

Wins will be unlikely to come easy for this team that sits at the bottom of the Ivy League in points and assists per game. Averaging nearly 15 turnovers per game doesn’t help either.

Dartmouth will play Harvard, Columbia, and Cornell this week. A win against any one of them should be an encouraging sign moving forward.

– M. Roitman