What Happened Last Week: Harvard lost at Cornell, falling back into a tie for first place with Yale at 10-2. The Crimson beat Columbia the following night, while the Bulldogs beat Princeton and Penn despite trailing both in the second half. Dartmouth earned an impressive road sweep of the New York teams.
1. There’s a paradox inherent to the data-driven analysis we like to focus on at this site: The most interesting stories for us to write about are the most extreme trends — which are also the least likely to continue. I was thinking about this while writing about the dramatic improvement of Harvard’s offense; sure enough, hours after that analysis was published, the Crimson was held under 50 points at Cornell. I wrote about Cornell’s low defensive turnover rate right before the Big Red started forcing a lot more miscues; I wrote about Siyani Chambers’ rough statistical season at its nadir; and I wrote about Justin Sears’ Ivy dominance just before his tough night against Harvard. These are all reminders that even if a trend is notable, it won’t necessarily continue.
Still, my Harvard-jinxing powers seem remarkable — you may recall my deep dive on Wesley Saunders presaged a 76-27 loss at Virginia. I’m just saying, if Yale fans are willing to bribe me to write another Harvard feature this week, I might listen.
2. Friday night at Columbia, Dartmouth had its hottest stretch since it shocked Harvard in January. After the Lions pulled even midway through the second half, they were flattened by an 18-4 Dartmouth run that spanned just seven possessions. Many of the biggest contributions came from the Big Green’s bench: Malik Gill sparked the spurt with a steal, scored six points and assisted two of the other baskets, while Tommy Carpenter added a putback and a crafty assist as part of a 10-point, seven-rebound game off the bench.
3. Any fans arriving in a time machine from the 1990s would have been surprised by Friday night’s highlights. First, in the second half of a tied game, Yale ran a 25-foot alley-oop lob to 10th-leading scorer Khaliq Ghani (all videos via Ivy League Digital Network):
A few minutes later, Steven Cook answered with an emphatic jam off the dribble, undeterred by the presence of Justin Sears (who was adamant that he was not “dunked on”):
Later that night, Columbia guard Kyle Castlin threw down a powerful tip-slam against Dartmouth:
Player of the Week: Maodo Lo, Columbia — Lo regressed from last weekend’s heights, scoring ‘only’ 48 points across two losses to Dartmouth and Harvard. He shot just 4-13 against the Big Green, but he rebounded to drop 33 points on 23 shooting possessions against the league’s best defense, adding five steals for good measure. Lo was a pedestrian 3-9 from beyond the arc, but he used his speed and several backdoor cuts to get into the lane frequently:
Rookie of the Week: Antonio Woods, Penn — Woods helped Penn scare Yale on the road, scoring or assisting on more than half the Quakers’ points. For the weekend, he scored 29 points and had 14 assists against five turnovers, bringing much-needed stability to the Quakers’ backcourt. After struggling to find his footing at times early in the season, Woods has the league’s third-highest assist rate in Ivy play (34%) while leading the Quakers in minutes.
The Week Ahead: Yale at Harvard, 8 p.m. Friday, in the biggest game of the year. The winner will clinch at least a share of the Ivy League title and will be able to secure the NCAA bid with another win in the season finale. Saturday’s action won’t be just a formality, however, especially if Yale wins — the Bulldogs still have to visit Dartmouth, where they are currently just a one-point favorite per KenPom.
- Harvard (10-2) — Harvard beat Columbia comfortably, but allowing 70 points on 62 possessions was its second-worst effort of the Ivy season — better only than the Lions’ 68 on 58 possessions in Cambridge. The Crimson were lucky to have strong shooting nights in both meetings with Columbia this season.
- Yale (10-2) — Justin Sears had a rough game against Penn, committing six turnovers and held to double-digit points, but he came through in the final two minutes. With the Bulldogs nursing a one-point lead, the forward ripped an offensive rebound out of Darnell Foreman’s hands and kicked it to Jack Montague for an open three-pointer. After blocking a Sam Jones three-pointer, Sears beat the shot clock with a layup and one, sealing a 55-50 victory.
- Princeton (6-5) — The Tigers led by multiple possessions in the second half of every game in February, but they finished the month just 4-4 thanks to late-game struggles. Princeton still has a good chance to finish above .500 (not least because it’s done facing Sears, who torched the Tigers for 53 points on 19-26 shooting in two meetings).
- Dartmouth (5-7) — Most official Twitter college athletics accounts stick to play-by-play and team news, occasionally retweeting praise for their players. Dartmouth’s men’s basketball feed, launched this year, has a refreshing personality (and a particular affinity for puns):
- Columbia (5-7) — Though Columbia lost to Dartmouth, Kyle Castlin made a strong Rookie of the Year case in head-to-head competition against late challenger Miles Wright. In addition to the massive dunk above, Castlin dished six assists, grabbed nine rebounds and finished with 18 points, while Wright was held to two in 11 minutes.
- Cornell (5-7) — Cornell held Harvard to 23% shooting on two-pointers, the Crimson’s second-worst performance of the season (behind only the Virginia game). The Big Red racked up 10 blocks, including four from David Onourah and three from Shonn Miller.
- Brown (4-8) — After committing tons of turnovers in non-league play, the Bears have improved considerably of late, ranking fourth in Ivy play with an 18.4% turnover rate. But their defensive issues haven’t gone away: no Ivy team forces fewer turnovers, and despite a frontcourt anchored by Rafael Maia and Cedric Kuakumensah, Brown has leaked a lot of offensive rebounds.
- Penn (2-9) — Daily Pennsylvanian reporter Steven Tydings has been capping Saturday nights by tweeting “Sad Penn basketball facts,” which are as remarkable as they are depressing. This weeks’ insights: Penn’s current seven-game losing streak is the longest in team history; 2013-15 is its first streak of three straight sub-.500 seasons; and 2-9 is the Quakers’ worst-ever start to Ivy play.
4 thoughts on “Ivy League Weekly Roundup: Mar. 1”
Love those video highlights. Nice touch. Peter Andrews is delighted that Lo will be the undisputed POW after last week’s travesty. Lo playing like POY at this point, although Saunders and Sears will play for that distinction as well as the Ivy crown on Friday. Tigers can win out to get into the postseason somewhere. Big tip of the hat to Paul Cormier, one of the true gentlemen in our League.
“Peter Andrews is delighted that Lo will be the undisputed POW after last week’s travesty.”
Looks like you spoke too soon, Tiger…
Wow…never saw that one coming…poor Peter…and poor Maodo…what’s a guy have to do in this League????