Dartmouth and Penn kick off a fairly light week in Ivy hoops tonight. Look for the league’s composite record to remain at three games under .500 at the end of the night.
Dartmouth (1-2) vs. Maine (2-6) – 7:30 pm (Portland, ME)
Thanks the the school’s funky academic calendar, no Division I team playing a full schedule has played fewer games than Dartmouth’s three contests. The Big Green has had a lot of time to think about blowing what should have been a road win over Colgate back on November 29. Maine is 2-6, but those two wins have come over non-Division I Maine-Fort Kent and a Morgan State team that has lost all nine of its games by an average of 28.2 points. However, four of the Black Bears’ six losses have been by single digits, and all but one was away from home. If Dartmouth weren’t coming off a two-week hiatus it might be slightly favored on a “neutral” court, but this one might be a toss-up. Dartmouth ranks 304th in pace of games this season, and Maine also appears to favor a slower tempo, so this could be a low-scoring affair. It could also be a game that sees a lot of three-point attempts, as both teams rely heavily on the three-pointer for their offense. This team that knocks down more of its outside shots tonight will probably leave with the win. This is the third season in a row the two schools have met, with the road team taking the previous two games by small margins.
Villanova (6-0) at Penn (3-3) – 8:00 pm
Fresh off of a date with top-ranked Duke, Penn returns home to host #5 Villanova at The Palestra. Quaker fans hoping for a repeat of the fairly competitive game at Cameron last week may be disappointed with what they see tonight. Tops in the nation in offensive efficiency, Villanova isn’t likely to encounter the same offensive problems Duke did last week, and Jay Wright is accustomed to coaching against Fran Dunphy. Villanova is an 11-point favorite, which is probably a result of the Wildcats winning by 10 points in each of the last two meetings. Penn actually has played at a faster pace this year, while Villanova bears no resemblence to the careless Wildcat teams of a few years back, slowing down things and turning it over at the 14th-lowest rate in the nation. Villanova does most of its offensive damage from three-point range, while guarding the perimeter well at the other end, so don’t look for Penn to bust out of its outside shooting slump in this one. One thing to keep an eye on: the Wildcats rank 19th in offensive rebounding and 46th in free throw attempts, while the Quakers are below average in defensive rebounding and free throws allowed. With Penn at a significant size disadvantage, this is looking like another night when keeping things semi-interesting for 40 minutes is about as much as it can hope for. The game will be televised on Comcast’s CN8 channel in the Mid-Atlantic states only, though the game feed will be carried on the Internet at CN8.tv.