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AROUND THE IVIES: Men's Basketball Faces Challenging Home Slate

Djuricic and the Dish
Freshman forward Danilo Djuricic scored in double figures both games last weekend. Djuricic is shooting 42.7 percent from the field this season.

We’re going to play a game called ‘Who Said it?’. It’s a pretty simple concept, we’re going to give you a quote and you’re going to guess who said it. Here we go.

“The whole reason why I keep talking about the Eagles is because I feel like it totally translates to what this team is going through.”

Do you have your guess?

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, Philadelphia is home to the Lombardi Trophy. Let that one sink in for a second. This article is being written on a train from Philadelphia following a parade to celebrate the Eagles’ first ever Super Bowl.

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‘Was the quote from Millville, N.J., native and noted Eagles fan Mike Trout? He was at the Super Bowl on Sunday and his Angels team figures to contend for a World Series following a down year last season.’

No on the Trout guess. Millions of people took the streets on a Thursday afternoon when center Jason Kelce delivered an expletive-laden speech about being an underdog. A team that lost three of its top players to injury, was led by a man who was rated the 32nd-best coach in the NFL before the season, and scored two offensive touchdowns between Christmas and the NFC Championship Game brought Philadelphia its first Super Bowl, defeating Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the process.

‘So, did Villanova coach Jay Wright deliver the quote? His team knows a little bit about knocking off a powerhouse on the big stage and was the last team from the Philadelphia area to have a parade.’

It wasn’t Wright. Philadelphia doesn’t typically win things, but its teams also don’t stink to the point where there are no expectations. Philadelphia sports teams are good at being just good enough for fans to have hope and then they rip your heart out.

In December, it appeared as though the Eagles were well on their way to another season of heartbreak. After leading his team to the best record in football and perhaps an MVP award for himself in the process, second-year quarterback Carson Wentz suffered a torn ACL in what was perhaps one of the most “Philadelphia” injuries of all-time.

‘Then was the quote from Chester, Pa., native Tyreke Evans, who lost his Memphis Grizzlies teammate Mike Conley to season-ending surgery on his heel late last month?’

Good guess but no. A mere five weeks after Wentz’s backup, Nick Foles, threw for 39 yards in the first half of a 6-0 home loss to the Cowboys, the Eagles were basking in the glory of a Super Bowl while their fans were wreaking havoc on the nation’s fifth-largest city. The whole thing felt surreal. Heck, Rocky, the city’s most iconic sports movie is about a boxer who (spoiler alert) ends up losing. In addition to the game story that it wrote on Monday morning, The New York Times published a piece chronicling how Philadelphia has an identity crisis, going from perennial losers and underdogs to champions during the Eagles’ improbable Super Bowl run. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran an article about how the Eagles’ run was ushering in a golden era of Philadelphia sports.

What about 76ers coach Brett Brown? Many people think his young team will be the next one from Philadelphia to hoist a trophy.

While he and Eagles coach Doug Pederson are good friends, the quote does not belong to Brown. Let me give you a hint. The person who said the quote plays for a Philadelphia sports team that currently holds a longer win streak than the Eagles. The quote at the beginning of the article comes from Penn junior Jake Silpe, a reserve point guard from Cherry Hill, N.J.

Silpe may not have been your first guess, but his team is hot. In fact, the Penn men’s basketball team is red hot. The Quakers have won four straight contests and are the Ivy League’s last remaining unbeaten team. Penn coach Steve Donahue has orchestrated a renaissance of Quaker basketball quicker than many experts predicted. After four straight losing seasons and an 0-6 start to Ivy League play a season ago, Penn has won 12 of its last 14 Ancient Eight contests. The Quakers came the closest of any Ivy League team to taking down last year’s undefeated Princeton squad and have already beaten the Tigers twice this season and title contender Yale last weekend. Penn is averaging nearly 77 points per contest and has already won nine games decided by nine or fewer points.

However, this article is not to draw parallels between a team that just won a Super Bowl in historic fashion to a team that had back-to-back losses to Fairfield and La Salle earlier in the season. Yes, the Quakers have been playing the best basketball of anyone in the Ivy League and looked dominant in the second half against Princeton on Tuesday night.

But there’s still a lot of basketball to be played and even more questions to be answered. Penn has played just one road game in the last two months, has struggled at times to play defense, is just over a year removed from a weekend in which it dropped its road contests to Harvard and Dartmouth, its two opponents this weekend, and has an extremely creepy (but peaceful) mascot.

Yes, the Penn men’s basketball team and the Eagles both finished below .500 last season and yes, Steve Donahue and Doug Pederson look alike if you cover one eye and squint, and yes, both teams play in the same city. The Quakers will probably beat Harvard this weekend, but come on, it’s still Penn men’s basketball. On to the picks:

COLUMBIA AT YALE

Both of these institutions struggle to have redeeming qualities.

For its part, Columbia has what may very well be the worst band in collegiate sports. On our road trip to Morningside Heights last week, we had the misfortune of being placed right in front of the band. After a few mediocre renditions of some traditional melodies, the band—which endearingly refers to itself as “the maggots of Columbia College” in its constitution—decided to take on Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble”.

We wish they hadn’t.

If you’ve ever had the fortunate of seeing that video where they replace the “oh’s” in that song with goats screaming, that’s a lot what it sounded like. If you haven’t, just Google “Taylor Swift goat” and turn up the volume.

Reading further into the band’s constitution, we found some language that explained it all—the band will, “take anyone who shows up.” I guess they took a page out of the playbook of Cornell’s admissions office.

For its part, Yale is located in New Haven.

The reason for all this is to say that with their lack of enviable qualities, this should make for a pretty close matchup. Given that the Lions won’t have their trusted band in New Haven, though, it’ll be tough for them to find the inspiration necessary out in Connecticut.

Pick: Yale

CORNELL AT BROWN

While Cornell struggles to earn any semblance of respect from its Ivy League counterparts, another Ithaca institution has done just that for us.

That’s right, the Ithaca Police Department.

On our way in and out of Ithaca, the police department had the fortune of stopping our noble steed—a Dodge Grand Caravan—not once, but twice for what may or may not have been speeding. After some casual conversation and an “I’d rather not know” in reference to a “Do you know how fast you were going?”, neither stop resulted in a ticket.

Incredible.

For its part, Brown is referred to in the Columbia Marching Band constitution as “a bunch of ice skating hippies, but at least Sue made out with one of them on a snow penis.”

We don’t know who Sue is nor do we know why the Ithaca Police Department passed up on two tickets. What we do know is that Brown might be one of the best young teams in the conference.

Pick: Brown

PRINCETON AT HARVARD

“I don’t know how you draw it up any worse than that.”

Those were Harvard coach Tommy Amaker’s words following this game last year.

You can hardly blame him—the Crimson lost this one despite being up three with the ball with 34 seconds to go. We won’t delve into the details, but needless to say, mistakes were made.

Harvard then lost to the Tigers on the road courtesy of a last second buzzer-beater.

Even though it plays an undefeated Penn squad on Saturday, this might be a bigger matchup for the Crimson and rightfully so.

Pick: Harvard

PENN AT DARTMOUTH

Fun fact: Dartmouth has lost all but one of its conference games by 10 or fewer points. It also lost its best player, who rightfully decided to transfer after the Big Green got an atrocious new logo.

Nonetheless, a winless conference record doesn’t buy you much in this league.

It buys even less against the only undefeated team in conference.

Pick: Penn

COLUMBIA AT BROWN

We’re not done with the Columbia Marching Band and the Columbia Marching Band isn’t done with Brown. In Article 8.5 of its constitution, the band states, “Brown is a bunch of stoners, but at least Dan boned the drum major.”

Unfortunately, we don’t think Dan—or Columbia for that matter—will be the one doing the boning this weekend.

Pick: Brown

PRINCETON AT DARTMOUTH

This has absolutely nothing to do with this matchup, but neither do most of the things that we write about here.

The people over at The Dartmouth (a newspaper, we think) are really good at taking quotes out of context and then writing a thousand words on said misquote. One of us (we won’t say who but his name is Troy) wrote a column last week on how this might be the easiest road to the tournament Harvard has had in a while.

The column read, “if I was a betting man, I’d take Harvard to finish with the best record in conference.”

What did The Dartmouth write?

“[T]he article did not mention the Crimson’s shooting struggles, instead arguing that Harvard would ‘finish with the best record in conference’”

We couldn’t care less, honestly. Dartmouth has lost nine in a row, so we’re surprised anyone is taking any interest in that team. But at least include the full quote. Our attornies will be in touch.

Did we mention Dartmouth has lost nine in a row?

Pick: Princeton

PENN AT HARVARD

This might just be the championship matchup at the Palestra come March.

With Penn’s 17-point blowout of Princeton and with the Crimson’s loss to Columbia last week, it’s clear that Penn is the team to beat in conference this season. With Bryce Aiken potentially sidelined again for Harvard and definitely not close to fully healthy, it would be hard to make a case for the Crimson. Good for the Quakers.

Pick: Penn

CORNELL AT YALE

We don’t know who names things out in Ithaca but whoever decided to call Cornell’s cheer squad the “Big Red Cheerleaders” clearly didn’t run it by anyone else.

More than anything, it sounds like the kind of phrase an American would use to describe a communist supporter at the height of the Cold War.

The Berlin Wall might’ve fallen, but we doubt Yale will.

Pick: Yale



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