With high-quality talent considering the Ivy League more than ever, the competition has been raised, and this group is worth watching. Last season, Yale dethroned Harvard as the team to beat, but the Crimson are back with a vengeance and appear ready to return to the NCAA Tournament.
Ivy League Preseason Power Rankings
Harvard knew it was in for a transitional season last year, but the season-ending injury to star Siyani Chambers further derailed the Crimson’s chances of a sixth-straight conference championship. The Crimson may have been knocked from the top in 2015-16, but even without Chambers, Harvard still finished fourth in the Ivy League. Now, with Chambers back and an added boost from four freshman ranked in ESPN’s top 100, the Crimson appear poised to be champions once again.
Princeton nearly topped Yale last season for the Ivy League title and looks to be a serious contender for the crown this year. The Tigers return all five of their starters, including senior forward Henry Caruso. Caruso had a strong junior campaign, leading the Tigers in points, steals, and rebounds. Princeton split its season series with Yale last year, but with the defending champs losing several key players, Princeton could easily jump them in the standings.
After their impressive first-round NCAA tournament win over Baylor and a competitive performance against Duke, Yale enters 2016-17 filled with confidence. The Bulldogs welcome back junior guard Makai Mason and senior guard Anthony Dallier, who stepped up for the Bulldogs after Jack Montague was expelled. Ascending the Ivy again could be more difficult for Yale this year, with the loss of three starters. We will learn more about the Bulldogs in the non-conference when they face Washington, Virginia, and Pittsburgh.
Columbia had an impressive 2015-16 season, finishing 21-10 overall, with a solid 10-4 conference record. But this year, Maodo Lo, Alex Rosenberg, and Grant Mullins — much of Columbia’s core from their successful 2015-16 run — are gone. The Lions will look to existing talent on the roster in Luke Petrasek, Jeff Coby, and Kyle Castlin, and will also depend on production from their four incoming freshman. 2016-17 will likely be a transitional season for the Lions, but their level of talent should still land them in the top half of the Ivy League.
The last time Dartmouth made the NCAA Tournament, Dwight Eisenhower was president. Last season was another tough one for the Big Green as they finished 10-18 overall, with a 4-10 Ivy League record. However, things could be looking up. Freshman Evan Boudreaux had a dazzling debut season, averaging 17.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Fellow freshman Guilien Smith also had a solid campaign, appearing in every game for the Big Green. Dartmouth also has a new head coach, David McLaughlin, who replaced Paul Cormier after his six seasons at the helm.
2015-16 was tough for Penn, as senior guard Tony Hicks left the team and Antonio Woods was declared academically ineligible. Now, Woods cannot re-enroll at Penn until the spring. Without Hicks and Woods last year, Penn’s underclassmen stepped up. Freshman guard Jackson Donahue was the team’s second-leading scorer, followed by sophomore duo Darnell Foreman and Sam Jones. The Quakers welcome six freshmen to their roster this season, and will look to their new players to help absorb the loss of standout center Darien Nelson-Henry.
Sophomore guard Matt Morgan had a phenomenal freshman season for the Big Red. On the way to earning second team All-Ivy honors, Morgan was a five-time Ivy League rookie of the week, and averaged 18.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Cornell returns all of its starters, but for a team that finished second-to-last in the Ivy League with an overall record of 10-18, the Big Red will need to dig deep to claw their way up in the standings.
The Bears finished last in the Ivy League last season, and enter this season having lost their most productive player, two-time Ivy League defensive player of the year Cedric Kuakumensah, and twins Justin and Jason Massey. The good news for Brown is that it returns four players who started double-digit games in Tavon Blackmon, J.R. Hobbie, Obi Okolie, and Steven Spieth. Brown will look to the senior point guard Blackmon for increased production and leadership, but with more competition in the conference, it looks to be another tough season in Providence.