Last week was “shopping week” for Harvard undergrads, who got to try out their classes and see what they thought before committing to taking them. In a way, last weekend was likewise a shopping week for Ivy basketball fans, who got a little taste of each of the teams in a head-to-head format and were able to make some early judgments.
But unlike work in classes you don’t end up taking, these games actually mattered. And though we didn’t learn anything we didn’t really already know—Harvard is really good, Dartmouth is really bad, and everyone else falls somewhere in between—we did discover some worthwhile information about the Ivy hoops scene.
After struggling in games at Fordham, Monmouth, and Vermont earlier this year, the Crimson was surprisingly dominant in what should have been a much tougher road environment in New Haven last Friday. Harvard’s offense executed on all cylinders, finding the open man time and time again, while its defense held Yale to fewer points than the Crimson football team scored in The Game.
Harvard currently ranks third in the nation in scoring defense, though that’s a mostly useless stat because it doesn’t take into account pace or adjust for opponent.
Still, the Crimson has nonetheless proven to be an outstanding defensive team, and—thanks to a quartet of freshmen that keeps getting better every week—a much deeper, more balanced offensive one than last season’s. Whether it’s Steve Moundou-Missi’s energy, Corbin Miller’s shooting stroke, Jonah Travis’ toughness, or Wes Saunders’ athleticism, these rookies continue to impress.
We’ll discuss the rest of the league below, because after a dominant 6-0 record last week, I’m ready to jump right into the picks.
CORNELL (7-11, 2-2 Ivy) at HARVARD (18-2, 4-0)
Two years ago, an outstanding Big Red team came into Lavietes Pavilion and, behind 27 points from Ryan Wittman, demolished the Crimson in what had at that time been deemed “the biggest game in Harvard basketball history.”
There have been two more “biggest games in Harvard basketball history” since, and things now are very different from that evening two years ago.
Just this week, Jeremy Lin ’10—Wittman’s former competitor for Ivy Player of the Year—became a Madison Square Garden fan favorite following 26 successful NBA minutes. Similarly, Wittman led his Washington Wizards to a 102-99 win over the Charlotte Bobcats.
Oh that’s right, that was his dad, Randy!
Ryan Wittman, for his part, became a Timberwolves fan favorite after his 26 successful hours working in Morgan Stanley’s Minneapolis branch. Here’s one to add to ryanwittmanfacts.com: Ryan Wittman retired so quickly, I didn’t even have time to finish writing this joke.
I only kid because it was disappointing to see a great talent like that give up so soon.
But in any case, the Crimson is now the Ivy League’s main dog at long last, and tonight it has another chance to prove it—just like Cornell did in the same arena two years ago.