It was a rough end to the year for a league that had been on pace to be the strongest of the decade. The week’s 6-7 record doesn’t look awful, until you realize that three of the seven victories came over Division III opponents.
Cornell and Harvard posted the biggest wins of the week, taking down middling Atlantic 10 programs LaSalle and George Washington, respectively. Princeton recorded the only other Division I victory with a desperate 45-42 win over Wagner, needing a 21-6 run over the final 10 minutes to sneak away at home.
Brown, Harvard and Cornell all added tune up victories over Division III teams, while Brown and Columbia blew second half leads against Sacred Heart and Maine, respectively. Yale dropped two contests in Colorado against the Rams and Buffaloes.
With a new year upon us, this edition of the Power Rankings will dole out suggested New Year’s Resolutions for each of the league’s teams.
Win A Game
8. Penn (Last Week: 7)
A road trip to North Carolina to face Duke and Davidson is hardly the recipe for success for a new coach, but getting outscored by a combined 193-105 in those two games will drop a squad right back to the Power Rankings basement. The abysmal defensive performance also dropped Penn to the basement of the Pomeroy defensive ratings.
Sitting at 0-9, the Quakers have two potentially winnable games coming up this week at Lafayette and UMBC. After that, it’s a few Big Five games before entering Ivy play, when Penn should get a boost from regulars returning from injury.
7. Dartmouth (8)
The Big Green got pounded by Quinnipiac on Wednesday and has recorded offensive ratings of 90, 95, 71 and 83 in its last four games, while being unable to keep any of those opponents below 100 defensively. Dartmouth’s 39.5 percent EFG shooting is 339th nationally and no individual regular player has an offensive rating of over 100.
With Penn potentially returning some talent for Ivy play, the Big Green’s last real opportunity for a victory this season could come against St. Francis in a little over two weeks.
Translate 20 Minutes of Effort to A Full 40
6. Columbia (4)
The Lions’ latest second-half collapse was a ratings killer, as Columbia’s 33-24 halftime lead over Maine quickly became a 36-35 deficit as the Black Bears went on to win 65-59. A week earlier, it was a four-point halftime lead that became a 12-point defeat at Quinnipiac.
The Lions could still win their final three non-conference games and finish with a winning out-of-league record, but not if Columbia fails to figure out how to keep up the intensity for all 40 minutes.
Turn Teams Over
5. Brown (6)
The Bears are clearly the third best Ivy offensive team and showed it with 78 points on 69 possessions against Sacred Heart. But Brown is also the second worst Ivy defensive squad and showed that by giving up 83 points on those same 69 possessions. The Bears can’t turn teams over and can’t clean the defensive glass, which gives opponents too many possessions which end in free throws or shots and thus too many points.
Brown returns home to face American and Wagner this week – two must wins for a Brown team looking to post a decent non-conference record.
More Possessions For People Not Named Alex Zampier
4. Yale (5)
The Bulldogs acquitted themselves quite nicely at Providence and Colorado before finally coming unglued defensively at Colorado State.
Alex Zampier ranks in the top 25 nationally in shots taken and top 50 in possessions used. Yet, his offensive rating hovers right around the national average, while three of the team’s four other starters have higher offensive ratings than he does. For a relatively experienced, deep team, that’s way too many possessions going to one player and could be a potential nightmare during the back-to-back Ivy weekends.
More Ball Security and Second Chances
3. Princeton (3)
The Tigers are doing a great job controlling tempo and defensively have been dominant, ranking 45th nationally in defensive efficiency. But the lack of offensive firepower, the genesis of which has been the struggle of sophomore guard Douglas Davis to create consistently, has allowed incredibly weak opponents to hang around with Princeton.
The Tigers’ last two home games, two weeks apart, have each seen Princeton run 61 possessions and hold opponents to 42 points. But the Tigers were lucky to survive both, scoring just 46 against Monmouth and 45 against Wagner. While the defense could allow Princeton to hang with Cornell and Harvard, the Tigers’ offensive ineptitude could put them at risk of dropping league games to some of the weaker Ivy teams.
Adopt Similar Resolutions to Princeton
2. Harvard (2)
The Crimson had a couple miserable defensive first halves against George Washington and MIT, but locked both offenses down after the break, allowing just 46 points in the second half of both contests combined. While Harvard’s offensive performance against MIT was equally strong for both halves, it too struggled in the second half against the Colonials.
Harvard is turning the ball over on almost one in every four possessions, which is the only thing holding down an offense that is hitting at a 52.4 percent EFG and getting to the line at rate of one free throw attempt for every two field goals.
Improve on An Average Defense
1. Cornell (1)
The Big Red got another resume building road win with a 78-75 victory at LaSalle and should be well on its way to a 12-3 Division I record and a top 50 non-conference strength of schedule. Win or lose at Kansas, Cornell has put together the best non-league run since Princeton in 1997-98.
In each of the four factors, the Big Red currently ranks 213th to 254th nationally, so there’s tons of room for improvement on that end of the floor. But in a league where only two of the other seven teams rank in the top 200 offensively, Cornell’s defensive weaknesses are unlikely to be exposed.