Like any good veteran team, Cornell is beginning to seize the moment at just the right time.
Big Red swingman Ryan Wittman drained a three at the buzzer to push Cornell past Davidson in overtime and the Big Red fought off an early double-digit deficit to notch a comeback win over St. John’s to win the MSG Holiday Festival.
Those two victories were the only ones for the league this past week, as Dartmouth dropped three, while Yale, Columbia and Harvard added one each.
Yale and Harvard’s stumbles were both excusable, as the Bulldogs hung with Providence into the second half and the Crimson stuck with Georgetown for 20 minutes before being overwhelmed by the Hoyas’ physicality.
Columbia’s road loss at Quinnipiac was relatively expected, but became more frustrating after the Lions gave up 26-7 run spanning 14 minutes of the second half. Prior to the outburst Columbia held a 35-27 lead, but after the Bobcats’ layup with 5:22 to go, the Lions trailed by 11. A win on the road against a decent Quinnipiac squad would have helped both Columbia and the league from an RPI perspective.
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8. Dartmouth (Last Week: 7)
The defense is starting to slip a bit, as the Big Green struggles to keep opponents off the offensive boards and has sent its last three opponents to the line way too many times. That’s really bad news, as the Dartmouth offense hasn’t turned the corner at all and is well on its way to becoming the worst Ivy offense of the decade.
Pomeroy Says: The Big Green’s chance for a winless Ivy run is 14 percent.
7. Penn (8)
Congrats to Penn, which hasn’t played in 12 days and hasn’t won in almost 300, but managed to climb out of the Ivy cellar after Dartmouth staggered into it. The Quakers have a brutal North Carolina trip around the corner with games against Davidson and Duke, but finish up their current five-game road trip at Lafayette and at UMBC, which could be golden opportunities for Penn to get into the win column.
Pomeroy Says: Penn’s chance to go winless on the season is just one percent, while its odds of a winless Ivy campaign are just three percent.
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6. Brown (6)
The Bears could be the most intriguing and incredibly important Ivy team over the final three weeks of non-conference play. Brown has three RPI-swinging road dates with teams ranked a bit ahead of them (at Sacred Heart, at Quinnipiac, at Army). The Bears have really set themselves up as another Ivy team that can make a push to be an RPI Top 150 team with a strong finish to their non-conference slate.
Pomeroy Says: Brown forces the fewest turnovers per possession of any team in Division I by more than a full percentage point.
5. Yale (5)
The Bulldogs gave Providence everything it could handle, looking like the better team for 28 minutes. The Friars dominated the final 12 minutes to snatch away the victory, but Yale and senior guard Alex Zampier both showed the league that the Bulldogs could be a difficult out on any given night.
Pomeroy Says: Yale is 299th in two-point field goal percentage allowed and 263rd in offensive rebounding percentage allowed, which indicates that the Bulldogs are uncharacteristically losing the battle in the paint this season.
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4. Columbia (4)
While the Lions still lead Division I in three-point shooting percentage, that stat is almost completely irrelevant. Why? Columbia’s ratio of three-pointers to two-pointers taken is 338th in the nation, indicating that it’s really the Lions’ two-point shooting (43.8 percent, 271st in the nation) that is driving this offense, and it is not good. When a team shoots better from three than from two, expect plenty of high-variance results.
Pomeroy Says: Columbia should be favored in each of its final four non-conference games, including an interesting road date at Lafayette.
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3. Princeton (3)
The weekend’s blizzard wiped out the Tigers’ only game of the week at Maine, setting up a brutal three game stretch with road dates at St. Joseph’s, at Maine and at Marist on January 2nd, 4th and 6th, respectively. Princeton crept back into the Top 100 in the RPI today and will need to go 3-1 over its final four non-conference games to stay there.
Pomeroy Says: The Tigers’ 91.8 Defensive Rating is 57th best mark nationally and is spurred by its 18th best turnover per possession mark.
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2. Harvard (1)
Where is the Ivy League at right now? When a rusty Crimson team hangs around with a ranked opponent for awhile before falling by a margin in the teens, it gets criticized and dropped in the Power Rankings. For the first time all season, Harvard looked both lost and completely outworked on the defensive end of the floor and really out of sync offensively. While a return to Cambridge for the first time in 26 days against MIT should provide the Crimson an opportunity to right the ship, things need to get back in order quickly with a very tough George Washington team paying a visit on the 30th.
Pomeroy Says: Harvard’s two-point shooting percentage of 56 percent is sixth-best nationally and its 77.5 percent mark from the charity stripe is seventh-best nationally.
1. Cornell (2)
The end of regulation in the Davidson game potentially will be viewed as a turning point of the Big Red’s season. If senior guard Louis Dale doesn’t make the coast-to-coast, game-tying layup, Cornell suffers a bad loss to Davidson and gets a resume-neutral consolation game against Hofstra. But Dale and Wittman played the role of the hero, the Big Red survived, and then made its statement in the final against St. John’s. Winners make their own luck, and that’s what Cornell is at this point.
Pomeroy Says: Cornell’s Offensive Rating of 116.6 is 14th-best in the nation and is the best performance by an Ivy League squad this decade by over nine points per 100 possessions.