It didn’t take long for the news to echo around the league.
It certainly didn’t hurt that the Brown-Princeton tilt started an hour early at 6:00 p.m., but by the time it drew to a close – during halftime of the three 7:00 p.m. starts – the league race was pushed to the brink of elimination.
The Bears took down the Tigers at Jadwin to push Princeton a game behind Cornell in the loss column, meaning that next weekend’s Tigers-Big Red showdown in Ithaca won’t be winner take all, as a win by Princeton would only draw the Tigers even with Cornell.
If the Big Red sweeps next weekend, it will be guaranteed at least a share of the Ivy title. The only way it could clinch the outright crown and the NCAA bid this weekend would be to have Princeton get swept and have Harvard lose on Friday or Saturday night against Brown or Yale.
While that’s the technical look at the league race, from a pragmatic perspective, if Cornell defeats Princeton on Saturday night, regardless of what else happens, the Big Red will almost certainly clinch the NCAA bid at some point during the next two weekends. If the Tigers can pull what would be a mild upset, then we’d have an interesting race to the finish, including a meeting of No. 2 and No. 3 with Harvard traveling to Princeton on March 6.
The 8-0 run to close the first half looked like the push the Tigers needed to finally gain control. Princeton’s 30-24 lead at the break was by no means insurmountable, as the Bears put together an 18-9 run over the first 10 minutes of the second half to grab back a three-point lead.
From there, the two teams fought back-and-forth, but Brown made just enough free throws in the final minute to put the Tigers away for the 57-54 win.
The Bears dominated the paint from a scoring perspective, but once again failed to generate any activity on the offensive boards as Brown collected just one offensive rebound on the evening.
The two teams combined to go 7-of-29 from three, as Princeton guards Dan Mavraides and Marcus Schroeder went 4-for-17 from behind the arc themselves.
IS HE AL-WRIGHT?
Despite telling The Harvard Crimson earlier in the week that he was unlikely to play and even hinting that his season might be over, forward Keith Wright gave it a go on Friday night against Cornell.
Wright contributed six points and three rebounds in 16 minutes, but also had four fouls and three turnovers, showing off the rust accumulated during a three-week absence. The 6’8 sophomore returned to the bench the following night, as Harvard went with a lot of four-guard looks against Columbia in a 77-57 victory.
KNEE-JERK POWER RANKINGS
The Big Red is now 3-0 versus the top contenders and can clinch a share of the title with a win over Princeton Saturday.
Couldn’t stop Wittman, but otherwise looked like a Top 100 team again with Keith Wright toughing it out last Friday.
The Tigers had their third-best offensive performance of the season on Friday before going relatively silent in the upset loss to Brown.
At 1-5, the Bears looked dead, but after sweeping the P’s road trip, they might have the inside track to fourth in the Ivies.
Rough week capped off by a dominating performance against Yale. Quakers went a disappointing 2-3 on their five-game homestand.
Sleep-walking through the trip south really damaged the Bulldogs’ chances to get to 7-7, but Yale could still rebound for fourth.
Congrats to the Big Green, which finally posted a league win with a brutal (to watch) 48-44 win over Columbia.
After starting the season 6-6, the Lions have fallen apart down the stretch losing nine of 12 and seven of 10 in Ivy play.