Formidable tests

The league’s composite record has been at or above .500 since November 19, but that’s in serious jeopardy tonight. With the overall mark at 22-21, three Ivy teams are in action tonight, and all three are probably the underdogs in those games.

Tonight’s action
Harvard (5-1) at Boston University (0-5) – 7:00 pm
Harvard travels down the Charles River to face Boston University in the cozy confines of The Roof, but does so without center Brian Cusworth, who is out with a small fracture in his hand. That’s a big loss for the Crimson, as Cusworth is averaging 12.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest. BU is off to a rough start this season, winless in five games. However, those five losses have come to opponents with a combined record of 23-4, including undefeated Duke, Michigan, and George Washington. The Terriers are averaging just 51.4 points per contest so far, but that’s largely the result of the slow pace at which they’re playing. Harvard, on the other hand, has favored a more up-tempo game, and has been averaging 71.5 points per game. One key aspect of tonight’s game to watch is the free throw disparity. Harvard has been one of the best teams in the nation at getting to the line, while BU is among the worst. Harvard was blown out in the last two meetings between these teams, losing 92-55 last season at Lavietes and 86-42 at BU in 2003-04.

Columbia (5-1) at Wagner (4-1) – 7:00 pm
Columbia looks to rebound from a very disappointing home loss to Army on Saturday when the Lions take the ferry to Staten Island to face a Wagner team that has already knocked off Brown and Yale on the road. The Seahawks enter the game having won 15 of their last 18 games going back to last season, and look to be the toughest test of the young season for Columbia. Both teams are shooting well, but so far Joe Jones has looked to play at a controlled pace and take care of the ball, while Wagner ranks in the middle of the pack in tempo and has struggled with turnovers. However, Wagner has played better than Columbia defensively to this point, particularly when hit comes to forcing turnovers, which has been a weak spot for the Lions. Keep an eye on the turnover margin when these New York City rivals meet for the first time since 2001, when Wagner prevailed 83-62.

Temple (3-2) at Princeton (1-3) – 7:30 pm
Despite vowing to never play Princeton again after his Owls escaped with a win on a missed goaltending call last year, John Chaney finds his squad facing off against the Tigers at Jadwin Gym tonight. Last year’s game was televised, but the folks at ESPN appear to have learned their lesson, as this year’s game is being broadcast only locally by Patriot8. That’s probably best for everyone involved, as this promises to be just as unseemly as the previous meeting. Vegas has set the over/under at 108.5, which seems rather high. Temple ranks 327th in pace of play, while Princeton comes in 333rd, ahead of only Chris Mooney-coached Richmond. The Owls do rank a healthy 99th in offensive efficiency, but the Tigers are uncharacteristically poor at 288th in a category in which they are normally in the top one-third of Division I teams. If Princeton is to have any chance of pulling the upset, it’s going to have to do a better job on the boards than it has to this point. That’s tall order, as the Tigers are givng up four to seven inches at most positions to the much bigger Owls. Watch the fouls and free throw attempts in this one. Temple is above average at getting to the charity stripe and Princeton is one of the worst in the nation when it comes to putting opponents on the line, while ranking near the bottom in free throw attempts itself.

Jake Wilson

Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Basketball U.

Jake Wilson wrote 754 posts

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