Princeton clinches a share of the Ivy League regular season title. No top team definitively falls out of Tournament contention.
With only one weekend left in the regular season, teams are settling into their rankings.
Assuming the remainder of the season doesn’t produce any highly unlikely scenarios, three teams will be fighting for the last two seeds.
- Princeton Tigers (12-0)
With a convincing 15-point win over Cornell, Princeton has clinched at least a share of the Ivy League regular season title. The Tigers were the preseason favorites, and have further exceeded all expectations.
With two games remaining against Harvard and Dartmouth, they have a chance to finish the season undefeated in league play. The only other team to accomplish that feat this season is the Vermont Catamounts. While Princeton’s defense remains dominant, the senior leadership is what has carried this team to their 12-0 mark.
- Harvard Crimson (10-2)
Harvard has won 17 of their last 20, dating back to non-conference play. Close losses to Columbia and Princeton have been used as building blocks and motivation to fuel long and rewarding win streaks.
The nationally televised rematch against Princeton this week will feature two defensive-minded teams. The big difference between the two: age and experience. Harvard’s young, inexperienced team will go up against a Princeton roster filled with seniors. Head Coach Tommy Amaker should carefully study tendencies and schemes in the upcoming game to best prepare for the Ivy League tournament and a possible third game against the Tigers.
- Yale Bulldogs (7-5)
The Bulldogs started off their weekend by losing their fourth straight, 77-64, to Harvard. A win against the 6-19 Dartmouth Big Green the next day might have snapped their skid, but did not give fans anything to feel optimistic about.
Remaining games against Cornell and Columbia are must-wins, and while the Bulldogs will be able to compensate for their front court struggles against these two teams, coach James Jones will need to find a way to play bigger and stronger in tourney play.
- Penn Quakers (5-7)
Coach Steve Donahue has done a great job developing this team into a real threat. The Quakers lost their first 6 games in conference play and their 3-point loss this weekend was the first since their original skid.
An upcoming game against Dartmouth should be a time when they can polish up their kinks in preparation for Harvard in their final regular season game.
- Columbia Lions (5-7)
The Lions dropped their first game this weekend to the mighty Princeton Tigers, but then followed with a crucial single-digit win against Penn. The two have now split the season series and both sit at 5-7.
Columbia’s final two games will both need to be victories if they want a chance at a playoff berth. The Lions get the easier two-game slate going up against Brown and Yale. All the Lions need is Penn to stumble at Harvard. A conference tourney bid is still very much in play for the Lions and coach Jim Engles in his first year at Columbia.
- Cornell Big Red (3-9)
A well-fought battle against Princeton fell short in the Big Red’s 75-60 loss on Senior Night. Robert Hatter played his last home game as a member of the Big Red but made it count. Hatter scored 18 points and surpassed Chris Wroblewski and Lenny Collins to land 12th on Cornell’s all time scoring list.
With the loss, Cornell was officially eliminated from any shot at the conference tournament. Brian Earl’s first season had its ups and downs but winning the rebound battle 28-25 against Princeton just shows this team’s potential in the coming years.
- Brown Bears (3-9)
The Bears’ season started off surprisingly well and they looked to have a shot at a conference tourney bid early on. A five-game losing streak in conference play quickly made that fantasy evaporate.
Although that sounds disappointing, the Bears didn’t expect to compete at the level they did at the beginning of the season. All Brown fans that have known the state of this program throughout the past couple of seasons understand that this is a huge step in the right direction.
- Dartmouth Big Green (3-9)
The Big Green’s two remaining games at Penn and Princeton are opportunities to send fans into an optimistic state heading into the offseason. The future will be on the shoulders of new head David McLaughlin and star sophomore Evan Boudreaux to turn this program around. On Saturday night, the Big Green scored a season high 86 points against a very respectable Yale team.
While they still lost the game, huge progress is being made in Hanover.
– M. Roitman