After a rough start to the week, the Ivy League rebounded to take three of its last four contests to finish a respectable 6-8 over the past seven days, including 5-4 against non-BCS opponents. Columbia picked up a pair of victories, while Harvard knocked off Boston College on the road and Cornell held serve at home against a frisky St. Joseph’s team. Yale’s win over a terrible Bryant squad, and Princeton’s victory against middling Patriot League team Lafayette rounded out the league’s triumphs.
This week marks the start of many Ivy teams’ winter breaks, meaning that the schedule will get a little less robust over the next couple weeks. As the league’s student-athletes prepare for their semester exams, we salute them with this distinctly stereotypical, class-based Power Rankings edition.
Geology 101 (Rocks For Jocks)
8. Penn (Last Week: 8)
After hanging tough in a nationally televised game on the road at Navy, the Quakers exercised their option not to participate in the second half of a blowout loss to Albany on Tuesday night. Penn is now a potential road loss to Monmouth on Saturday away from entering a 16-day break at 0-7.
While it would be a near shock to see an Ivy coach replaced mid-season, if the Quakers enter that layoff winless, expect the angst among supporters of the program to reach a boiling point. It will be interesting to see if the administration’s seemingly boundless patience survives that furor as well.
7. Dartmouth (7)
The Big Green hasn’t played in nine days, so they remain in the seventh position by default. Unless Penn plans to sleepwalk through the entire remainder of its schedule, Dartmouth will ultimately fall out of this spot. The Big Green has one very good defender, David Rufful, and one very good offensive player, Ronnie Dixon, joined by a variety of guys ranging from below average to awful.
The difference between this year’s Big Green team and last year’s is that there’s no one-man show named Alex Barnett to bail out an impotent offense.
6. Brown (5)
It’s hard to drop a team a spot during a week in which it played two major conference programs. But when the score is 47-10 under 17 minutes in, it grabs one’s attention – not in a good way.
The Bears did put together a nice first half against Providence on Monday night, but that 20 minutes wasn’t enough to distract from the 60 other disappointing ones that Brown logged this week. The Bears do have three weeks to regroup before opening with Kean College after the holidays.
5. Yale (4)
The collapse at the end against the Catamounts was disappointing, but Yale responded by taking care of business against a woeful Bryant team.
Alex Zampier is really carrying the load for the Bulldogs, but one has to question if he’s doing the team a disservice by being trying to do too much. His offensive rating of 102 is fourth among the starters and his floor percentage (ratio of scoring possessions to total possessions) is only 43 percent. Yale really needs some complementary players to step up and assume more of a role in the offense.
4. Columbia (6)
The Lions racked up a couple wins over extremely mediocre competition, but played a solid Stony Brook team very tough on the road to earn a spot back in the league’s upper division. Noruwa Agho continues to impress, as he remains the most efficient offensive player in the league logging his level of minutes.
The Lions pay a visit to Bryant this weekend and with a win would move above .500 heading into an 11-day exam break layoff.
3. Princeton (3)
The Tigers put forth a poor showing at Rutgers, in a game that was reasonably winnable, but dominated Lafayette at home to hang around .500 against a top 100 schedule. The slate gets gradually easier for the remainder of the year with a tricky weekend visit to UNC-Greensboro followed by home dates with Monmouth and woeful Wagner and a trip to play Maine. The Tigers should go 3-1 during that stretch.
Princeton has yet to get much out of heralded freshmen Ian Hummer and Will Barrett, but sophomore guard Douglas Davis has turned around a poor start and Patrick Saunders has been a huge surprise. The Tigers are an afterthought right now, as the media attention is focused squarely on Harvard and Cornell, but Princeton might just make those two pay for that during the league season.
Organic Chemistry 101
2. Cornell (2)
The Big Red just keeps notching wins over solid mid-major foes, but can’t gain any ground for now. That’s nothing against Cornell, which with a good showing at Madison Square Garden later this month or a scare at Kansas could turn itself into a possible at-large candidate, but rather is a statement about the quality of the league’s top two thus far.
Cornell boasts the nation’s 21st best offense to this point and that’s with Louis Dale being almost the least efficient player in the rotation. If Dale starts to click, this could be the most efficient offense the Ivy League has seen this decade.
1. Harvard (1)
I guess telling you about this Jeremy Lin guy wouldn’t be breaking any news at this point.
Lin’s second-half explosions against UConn and BC allowed Harvard to be in both games for a full 40 minutes and earn a split heading into its exam break. Despite the fact that the Eagles had seen Lin do this to them before, they still had no answer, as Lin drove to the basket for easy buckets and dishes to set up teammates.
Along with Lin, Keith Wright, Kyle Casey and Pat Magnarelli acquitted themselves nicely against the BCS competition, some of the younger members of the Crimson have struggled, as Oliver McNally, Brandyn Curry, Christian Webster and Dee Giger have seen their offensive efficiency ratings fall steadily over the last couple games. It will be interesting to see how or if those players rebound after Harvard escapes this brutal stretch.