Pennsylvania at Cornell, 5:00 PM.
Despite losing standout Ryan Betley to a season-ending injury, the Quakers have looked every bit the part of Ivy League defending champs this season. Penn secured the Big 5 title by going undefeated against Philadelphia rivals Villanova, St. Joe’s, La Salle, and Temple, but dropped both games to Princeton to get the Ivy League season started. Expect the Quakers to come out firing against a mediocre Cornell team that split the Empire State series with Columbia.
The Pick: Penn by 8 or more.
Brown at Dartmouth, 7:00pm.
The Bears had a tough start to the season, opening up with two games against travel partner Yale. After dropping both contests, expect Brown to come out hungry Friday night against the Big Green, as the Bears’ chances at qualifying for the tournament dwindle significantly if they can’t pull out at least one win against Dartmouth and Harvard. Nevertheless, expect a Big Green team that has somewhat surprised after being picked last in the preseason poll, to protect the home court that spurred them to an 18-point win over Harvard.
The Pick: Dartmouth by 3 or more.
Princeton at Columbia, 7:00pm.
This is a tough game to pick. After a late-night incident at a Princeton Wawa, the Tigers have been without their best player, senior guard Devin Cannady, who has been suspended indefinitely following his arrest. Nevertheless, the Tigers have jumped out to a 2-0 start with wins over Penn before Cannady’s suspension, putting Princeton in strong position to cling to an Ivy League Tournament spot. Columbia hasn’t impressed thus far against Cornell and non-conference opposition, and stands at 1-1 in Ivy Play. I like Mitch Henderson’s team to come out prepared for the New York trip, knowing that weekends against stiffer opposition in the form of Harvard, Yale, and Brown all loom in the coming weeks.
The Pick: Princeton by 4 or more.
Yale at Harvard, 7:00pm.
It feels a bit ill-fitting that Harvard-Yale is being played on the first weekend of Ivy League action - nevertheless, Lavietes will surely be packed to the brim for Friday night’s nationally televised contest on ESPNU. The Bulldogs have looked good in two close wins over Brown, and have won eight straight games dating back to a December 8th loss at Duke. This contest should be a good measuring bar for two of the Ivy League’s blue bloods, and league favorites alongside Penn. Ultimately, the Bulldogs are a bit healthier, with the Crimson still missing Seth Towns. I would expect Harvard to be favored here, but it’s hard to pick against a Yale team that’s been pretty impressive behind Miye Oni.
The Pick: Yale by 2 or more.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2
Brown at Harvard, 7:00pm.
After taking on Dartmouth, the Bears will travel to Lavietes Pavilion to play Harvard. The Crimson must be sure to not overlook Brown and expend too much energy Friday night against Yale - expect a hard fought defensive contest between Harvard’s stifling defense and the Brown’s young team, which leads the Ivy League in defense (68.2 ppg) and average scoring margin (+8.7). That being said, expect the Crimson to focus in on locking down the Bears’ star Desmond Cambridge, and take down the visitors from Rhode Island.
The Pick: Harvard by 3 or more.
Yale at Dartmouth, 7:00pm.
Saturday night will usher in a matchup between two leaders in field goal percentage - while the Bulldogs lead the Ancient Eight in overall FG shooting (49.4%), the Big Green lead the league from beyond the arc, where they shoot it at over a 40% clip. Brendan Barry is the country’s only 3-point shooter at over 50% (51.4%), but expect a disciplined James Jones-coached Yale team to defend the 3-point line and knock off the Big Green.
The Pick: Yale by 5 or more.
Princeton at Cornell, 7:30pm.
In the absence of Devin Cannady, the Tigers may be hard-pressed to score the ball. Princeton ranks last in the league in 3-point shooting, and sixth in the league in overall scoring - which includes the senior guard’s output. Look for a close game in Ithaca, but Matt Morgan and Cornell might have enough to eek out a win following a tough Friday night contest with Penn. Expect the 9:00pm finish on Friday night in New York City, followed by a 4+ hour bus ride up to Ithaca to be an additional factor for the traveling Tigers.
The Pick: Cornell by 3 or more.
Pennsylvania at Columbia, 8:00pm.
The Lions will welcome the Quakers to town to wrap up the weekend’s Ivy League action with an 8:00pm tip-off in Morningside Heights. Penn has won three of its last four matchups with Columbia, and desperately need to come away from the Cornell-Columbia trip with one, if not two wins, following its two early losses to Princeton. Expect Steve Donahue and his team to zero in on the Lions’ perimeter-oriented offense, especially with Columbia’s Mike Smith lost for the season with a knee injury. Penn’s AJ Brodeur is having himself another fantastic season, averaging over 15 points, 8 rebounds, and shooting over 50% from the field. Expect Brodeur to establish himself against a younger Columbia front-line.
The Pick: Penn by 5 or more.
— Staff writer Amir Mamdani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AMamdani_THC.
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