Dartmouth’s loss at Quinnipiac last night dropped the Ivy League’s composite record back down to a season-worst seven games under .500. But help is on the way. After a league-wide trend of tougher games, tonight represents a breather. All four Ivy teams should be favored at home, with Pomeroy predicting all but Yale to win by double digits.
Losses piling up for Dartmouth
A year after going 3-10 outside the league, this season isn’t looking any better for the Big Green. Last night was Dartmouth’s fourth straight loss, with three of those four being very winnable road games. Quinnipiac is definitely improved this year, but this was an opponent missing several players due to injury. The Big Green shot well, but uncharacteristically struggled against Quinnipiac’s defensive pressure (18 turnovers). But the real problem was at the other end, where the Big Green allowed the Bobcats to shoot well (48.1 percent), got pounded on the boards (61.1 percent defensive rebounding), and repeatedly fouled (28 free throw attempts allowed). If Dartmouth can’t grab a win back home tomorrow night against a rebuilding Vermont program, things could get really ugly record-wise, given the schedule after that.
Army (4-5) at Cornell (3-6) – 4:00 pm
Boy does Cornell ever need to win this one. Coming off the 44-point embarrassment at Bucknell, the Big Red will be in serious trouble if it loses at home to Army. A loss would be Steve Donahue’s first in six games against the Black Knights and would drop Cornell to 3-7 after a 2-2 start. Army is once again not a good team this year. The Black Knights are 4-5, but two of those wins are over non-Division I opponents and a third is over a VMI team whose only Division I win came over Army at West Point in the return game of an in-season home-and-home. If Cornell drops this one, it’s time to hit the panic button. This is the second game against an Ivy opponent for Army, who handed Columbia a disheartening 67-66 loss in Manhattan back on December 2.
Colgate (5-5) at Harvard (7-3) – 7:00 pm
Harvard should improve to 8-3 tonight against Colgate. The Red Raiders’ record looks respectable at 5-5, but their strength of schedule ranks 276th nationally. One of the wins is over Division III Hobart and a neutral court victory over Utah Valley State (ranked 234th in Pomeroy) is the only win over a program outside the bottom 50. The main concern for the Crimson is the fact that Colgate does do a very good job on the defensive boards (9th in Division I in defensive rebounding) and doesn’t foul a lot (13th-lowest in opponent free throw frequency). Still Harvard has a large enough offensive edge that it should be able to pick up the win at home, even without Brian Cusworth. Colgate is 2-1 against the Ivy League, beating Princeton and Dartmouth and home and losing on the road at Cornell.
Navy (3-4) at Yale (4-4) – 7:00 pm
Yale had better be ready to rebound and shoot free throws tonight. Navy plays a high-energy game that involves crashing the boards like maniacs and a lot of physical defense that frequently crosses over into fouling. The good news for Yale is that it has been a strong rebounding team this year — even without Dominick Martin — and it is shooting very well (71.6 percent) as a team from the charity stripe. This should be a fast-paced game full of turnovers, as both teams play at above-average tempos and both rank among the 35 worst teams in the nation in turnover frequency. Navy has already played Penn, losing 86-73 at The Palestra in a game that featured 75 free throw – with the Quakers shooting 55 of them.
Maryland-Eastern Shore (2-8) at Brown (2-5) – 7:00 pm
Brown stands an excellent chance of picking up its second straight win when perennial Division I bottomfeeder Maryland-Eastern Shore comes to town. Both teams have been among the worst in the nation offensively so far, but Brown ranks 105th defensively, while UMES is sixth-worst, so that defensive edge should be enough for the Bears. The Hawks have been particularly awful on the defensive boards, so Brown will need to improve on its offensive rebounding if it wants to exploit that weakness. Last year the Bears walloped UMES 87-38 down in Maryland. It probably won’t be that lopsided tonight, but Brown should definitely grab the win.