The Ivy League’s Game of the Century had finished as anything but. Cornell walked out of Newman Arena having vanquished the upstart contender to the throne in about as convincing a fashion as possible, while Harvard took the long bus ride home with its title hopes damaged, only to face more catastrophic news upon arriving back in Boston.
The Crimson soon learned that joining forward Pat Magnarelli on the injured list would be All-Ivy contending forward Keith Wright and reserve forward Andrew Van Nest. Without the interior presence Harvard was accustomed to, the Crimson dropped its home date with fellow upstart Princeton and slipped to 3-2 in the league.
The race, as it were, became the Big Red and Tigers show. And boy what a show it was. Cornell slipped up at The Palestra, but won the really important one at Jadwin to stay even in the loss column with Princeton.
Meanwhile, lacking sufficient warm bodies over 6’7, Harvard had to grind. It found a way to survive in New Haven. It outlasted Brown in Providence.
Now here it is. 6-2 in the Ivy League, and oddly back in control of its own destiny. Still, however, it remains without the services of Wright and Van Nest and potentially Magnarelli for this weekend. So, while the Crimson remains in the race mathematically, how realistic its chances are remains to be seen. Few believe that the chances are great, and if Harvard loses to Cornell, they will almost certainly be right. But if the undermanned Crimson can find a way to deal the Big Red a second-consecutive Friday loss, the Ivy race would get blown wide open.
Then, there’s Princeton. The Tigers bounced back nicely after suffering their first Ivy loss to Cornell by knocking off rival Penn on the road to keep pace in the league race. Now Princeton has a “hold serve” weekend against Yale and Brown before consecutive weekends with games against members of the top three. The Tigers will also be looking for Harvard to knock off Cornell, as Princeton has to travel to Ithaca next weekend and a Big Red loss this weekend would give the Tigers a game cushion heading into that title showdown. If Cornell sweeps this weekend and takes down Princeton next Friday, it would be a game up with three games to play, none of them against the teams which would be directly chasing it.
While the 14-Game Tournament heats up for Cornell, Harvard and Princeton, let’s not forget about the other five squads fighting for the last remaining spot in the league’s upper division. Yale has a pivotal weekend ahead of it, as it takes on the Tigers on Friday night and suddenly frisky Penn on Saturday. The Bulldogs could realistically end the weekend anywhere from a tie for third with Harvard to alone in sixth. While it needs the split to stay on pace for its 7-7 mark, it really played the Tigers tough in New Haven and has the size to give Princeton some fits.
Penn also has an interesting weekend ahead of it with two near tossups as it hosts Yale and Brown. The Bears will likely be looking for revenge for the Quakers’ buzzer beater in Providence a few weekends ago, while the Bulldogs won’t see the same team that they so easily dispatched with in New Haven.
So while Cornell and Harvard help clear up the picture at the top, these three teams should go a long way towards clearing up the middle by the time the weekend draws to a close.
Last but, well, definitely least, Dartmouth hosts Columbia on Friday in what Pomeroy has tabbed as its most “winnable” remaining game. The Big Green are almost 30% to go winless in league play, and if it can’t take down the Lions at home on Friday night, those odds should creep up even further.