With Ivy League play right around the corner, Harvard leads the conference with an 8-5 non-conference record. While the variability of non-conference schedules from team to team make it difficult to judge the Crimson’s Ancient Eight competition based on their records, first half matchups provide valuable insight about the strengths and weaknesses of each team.Columbia (8-6)
The Lions are second only to the Crimson in scoring, averaging 65.6 points per game. However, perhaps more dangerous is Columbia’s defensive capability. Led by senior guard Brian Barbour—with 13.4 points per game and 5.1 assists per game—the Lions have the best turnover margin in the conference. Barbour’s ability to control the ball while putting up big points will give Crimson freshman point guard Siyani Chambers a run for his money and keep Columbia in the hunt.
Ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, the Tigers have suffered a number of frustrating losses in games that they led. In December they let an 11 point second-half lead slip away in a 63-60 loss to Fordham, a team that Harvard defeated soundly, 73-64. The Tigers have been plagued by inconsistent perimeter shooting, but strong post play—most notably by senior forward Ian Hummer with 16.2 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game—ensures that Princeton will be a contender despite its slow start.
The Big Red has been unable to make up for its defensive lapses with a mediocre offense. The team has allowed 69 points per game—good for second to last in the league—while putting up only 64 and sits solidly in the middle of the pack in field goal and three point percentage. The team lacks an offensive sparkplug, with leading scorer Shonn Miller netting only 10.8 points per game.
The Bears have struggled to develop a physical game, failing to draw fouls and collect points from the stripe. Brown’s free throw attempts are good for last in the league, and the team hasn’t made up for it from the field, where it is shooting 39 percent. The low scoring squad has shown promising interior defense but has struggled to protect the perimeter. The Bears’ opponents have the highest three-point percentage in the conference.
The Bulldogs have taken advantage of a big frontcourt to become the highest rebounding team in the league, but they have struggled to find a defensive rhythm and are only holding their opponents to a 45.2 field goal percentage—the highest of the Ancient Eight. Leading scorers Austin Morgan (11.6 points per game) and Justin Sears (10.8 points per game) will have to do a lot more to make up for the porous Yale defense.
Statistically the worst team in the league, the Big Green has been outscored by an average of 9.5 points per game so far. Despite finally snapping a seven-game losing streak with a 75-58 win over Army last week, Dartmouth is shooting a league-low 36.2 percent from the field—including 29.7 percent from deep. The Big Green’s positive turnover margin will not be enough to overcome its lack of rebounding—especially on defense—and general inability to create scoring opportunities.
Don’t count the Quakers out yet. Despite holding the worst record in the conference, Penn’s first half statistics can be deceiving. Although the Quakers have allowed the most points per game, they have held their opponents to the second lowest scoring percentage in the league and the lowest three-point percentage. With forward Fran Doughtry and guard Miles Cartwright—15.7 and 14.5 points per game, respectively—combining to form the highest-scoring duo in the Ivy League, Penn promises to be a lively matchup.