Some have called it the "Lost Weekend."
Only once in the last twenty years has the Harvard men's basketball team been able to sweep the annual weekend at Penn and Princeton.
The Crimson (9-9 overall, 4-2 Ivy) plays Princeton (13-5, 4-2) at Jadwyn Gym tonight at 7:30 p.m. Tomorrow, the Quakers (8-10, 3-3) host Harvard to complete the most brutal road weekend of the season.
The Crimson currently is tied with Dartmouth and Princeton for the top spot in the Ivy League. The Big Green also will be trying to survive the Southern road swing this weekend. Any team that gets swept this weekend can just about kiss postseason hopes good-bye.
Bring on the Brooms
On the other hand, if any of the three first-place teams can execute a sweep, it certainly would obtain a commanding lead.
Harvard ironically has had more trouble against the Tigers at home. The Crimson has left Jadwyn Gym victorious each of the past two seasons, winning last year's meeting, 63-57.
To get a repeat performance, Harvard Coach Peter Roby must find a way to dictate the pace of the game. The Crimson has played an up-tempo, fast-break style all season, which led to blowout losses at Duke and Nebraska but then to wins over Yale and Dartmouth. Meanwhile, the Tigers have played a much more deliberate game, twice holding Ivy rivals to under 40 points and Big Ten power Michigan State to just 51 (in a two-point loss).
"The pace of the game could be a factor," sophomore guard Sean Jackson said. "We'll play like we always do."
But Harvard will not necessarily see the extreme deliberate style that nearly catapulted the Tigers past Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last March.
"We've been running a bit, too," sophomore center Matt Eastwick said. "That's how we beat Cornell."
The Crimson likes to press and run, and Princeton Coach Pete Carril knows that.
"Last year at Harvard, we attacked the press more," Eastwick said.
Ralph James has been the key to Crimson success thus far. In wins over Dartmouth and Yale, the junior forward was awesome, connecting on several clutch three-pointers to build large Harvard advantages.
"We'll have to try to stop James from penetrating," said Jackson, who is one of the Tiger's main outside threats.
But countering for the Tigers is perhaps the best player in the league--center Kit Mueller. The junior leads the team with 14.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game.
Penn also claims one of the best big men in the Ivies in center Hassan Duncombe, who leads the Quakers with 19.1 points per game.