Crimson To Face Lions, Big Red

Around the Ivies

During Shopping Week, it takes me roughly the first five minutes of a class to decide whether or not I’ll take the course. The rest of the class time is what Shopping Week is really all about: watching everybody else in the room.

It’s only natural. If I decide not to take the course, then I’d obviously rather scout the crowd for underclassmen talent than listen to the professor lecture on “bore-ophyll.” And if I do choose to take the class, it’s only the first week, so the material is not as important as whether any Kirkland queens might potentially be in my section.

All the important information that Shopping Week ostensibly exists to supply is actually online weeks in advance. By the time the semester begins, I’ve already spent hours crunching numbers in the Q Guide—highest ratings, lowest workloads—to uncover gems like “Tangible Things.” So when that first week rolls around, I need only to make sure the course meets expectations. Beyond that, I spend my time people-watching and imagining how the semester will play out.

Ivy men’s basketball has its first Friday-Saturday matchups of the season this weekend in what amounts to the Ancient Eight’s Shopping Week. Right now, the numbers—the Basketball Qs—say that Harvard is the favorite to win the league, Princeton’s chances are slightly lower, and Yale has an outside shot at the title.

Of course, it’s too early to crown a champ. Last Saturday, a lousy Dartmouth squad built a 12-point second half lead against the Crimson before choking it away. But that game and, perhaps more so, this weekend’s contests, help to gauge these initial expectations and offer a chance to check out the other teams.

A couple questions as I look around the league: Will Princeton, who has yet to play a league game, show up as the conference favorite that many pundits predicted? Will Columbia emerge as a legitimate contender after its 2-0 Ivy start? Will Yale keep rolling and challenge for the crown? Will Penn’s record match its talent?

It’s Shopping Week, which means it’s time to find out.

COLUMBIA (11-5, 2-0 Ivy) at HARVARD (13-3, 2-0 Ivy)

The Lions boast the third-best record in the conference and have won eight of their last nine games, but they still represent a big question mark. Playing mostly weak competition in its non-conference schedule, Columbia’s best win came against a then-.500 Maine team.

The Lions have some nice pieces though, particularly at guard. Junior Noruwa Agho leads the league in scoring, and sophomore Brian Barbour has come on strongly since New Years, averaging 18.8 points per game in that span.

But Harvard shouldn’t lose. The Crimson has the league’s best offense; Columbia has the league’s worst defense. With sophomore guard Christian Webster likely making his return and Lavietes Pavilion rocking, Harvard should prevail. Columbia’s last 11 games have been decided by single digits, and I don’t see why tonight will be any different.

Pick: Harvard 78, Columbia 69

CORNELL (4-12, 0-2 Ivy) at DARTMOUTH (4-12, 0-2 Ivy)

We saw Dartmouth’s ceiling in the first 25 minutes of last Saturday’s game. The Big Green was making shots and grabbing rebounds at a ridiculous rate before it went frigid against the Crimson’s zone. Dartmouth is definitely capable of winning some Ivy games, and perhaps its best chance comes tonight against Cornell.

The Big Red of this year is certainly a far cry from the wonder teams of the past three seasons, but Cornell’s record does not do the team justice. Eight of its 12 losses have been by five points of less, and the Big Red has legitimate offensive threats in juniors Chris Wroblewski and Andrew Ferry, and sophomore Errick Peck.