After two weekends full of upsets, one might have figured that last weekend the Ivy League would sort itself out from this disarray.
Instead, all we got is more confusion.
Entering last weekend undefeated and in first place in the league, Princeton not only lost both those titles, but gave them up in shockingly easy fashion. Yale and Brown each clowned on the Tigers, giving the Bears their first win of the Ivy season.
For good measure, Princeton lost at home to Penn on Tuesday, though it put forth a much better performance.
League favorite Cornell regained the top spot, but blowing a 19-point lead in the second half against Dartmouth is a good sign for the rest of the league that the Ithaca team can be had, as well as a good harbinger for whoever Cornell plays in the NCAA tournament.
And where is Harvard in all this? Another close game lost at the end, this time at Columbia.
In its six losses, the Crimson was tight to the end in four of them before usually being let down by poor foul shooting and/or other mistakes, as well as better execution by its opponent.
So is all the end-game karma against Harvard? Well, no. In the two games it did win—at Dartmouth and home against Brown—the winning scores came on the final possession, and the opponent arguably played better each time. So while Harvard perhaps should be better than 2-6 in league play, that record could just as easily be worse.
Let’s see what is in store for this weekend’s set of games.
HARVARD (10-12, 2-6 Ivy) at PRINCETON (9-11, 4-3)
Princeton looked to be getting back to its formidability of the past after winning its first four league games, including dominating performances against Cornell and Columbia. Now, who knows.
The tough overtime loss against Penn leaves the Tigers with just two days to rest up before welcoming the Crimson to Jadwin Gym. Princeton has lost its first home games the past two years after playing Penn mid-week, but that can be attributed to those Tiger teams being terrible. Harvard has not won at Princeton since 1989, and if it couldn’t beat away the Tigers when they were down, the chances of ending this 20-year drought now are not good. Princeton 67, Harvard 61.
DARTMOUTH (6-16, 4-4) at PENN (8-13, 4-3)
The Big Green beat Penn for the first time in 12 years earlier this month up in New Hampshire, but the Quakers have just won three games in a row, all on the road. Dartmouth won’t have to wait 12 more years to beat the team in blue and red again, but it also won’t get its first season sweep of Penn since 1959. The Big Green did sweep the Quakers eight times in the 1940s and 50s when it also played in the NCAA championship game twice. Times have changed. Penn 70, Dartmouth 58.
COLUMBIA (10-12, 5-3) at BROWN (7-15, 1-7)
Brown finally broke its league duck against Princeton, surprisingly, last weekend. Well, maybe nothing is too surprising in the league any more. The Lions swept Dartmouth and Harvard last weekend and find themselves surprisingly in second place. They’ll stay there for at least one more day. Columbia 57, Brown 53.
CORNELL (17-7, 7-1) at YALE (9-13, 4-4)
A tough game for the Big Red, especially coming after nearly getting shocked at home against Dartmouth. For a veteran and well-coached team, that almost-clunker should serve as an important wake-up call, and we can expect see a much better performance from the defending champs. Cornell 72, Yale 65.
DARTMOUTH at PRINCETON
Surprisingly, these two teams were at or near the top of the league just one week ago. After nearly stunning Cornell and everyone else who follows Ivy League basketball, the Big Green could definitely grab a win at Jadwin. However, the Tigers have the edge after their previous victory up north. Princeton 58, Dartmouth 50.
COLUMBIA at YALE
Joe Jones got the better of his brother James when the two meet earlier this season, and his Lions have also won their past two trips to the intimidating John J. Lee Amphitheatre—no easy feat. The Bulldogs, however, are in much better form than when the teams met earlier, and Ross Morin and company should bounce back from defeat against Cornell the previous night. Yale 65, Columbia 58.
CORNELL at BROWN
Quoting fellow beat writer Walt Howell, “I will never pick anyone to beat Cornell.” I concur. Cornell 75, Brown 60.
HARVARD at PENN
The Crimson really should have won this game when the two met in Cambridge earlier this month. Harvard will have senior forward and Palestra favorite Evan Harris back, but junior Doug Miller will probably miss out. Guard Harrison Gaines is back for the Quakers after being sick for the earlier fixture. Advantage Penn. The Crimson must wait another year to win a game on this road trip. Penn 67, Harvard 60.
—Staff writer Ted Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.