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Ivy League Power Rankings: The conference play edition

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Yale retains the top spot, but Harvard is tight on their heels.

NCAA BASKETBALL: NOV 26 Harvard at UMass Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With conference play set to begin in the Ivy League, get caught up on where the teams sit after wrapping up their respective non-con schedules.

Yale

Last week: Loss vs. Temple, 83-77.

In the preseason, the Bulldogs were projected to be the third seed. That was before the news broke that star guard Makai Mason would be sidelined for the season with a broken foot. With Mason lost, Yale entered this season without any starters from last year’s Ivy League championship team. However, the Bulldogs have been knocked down, but not out. Sophomore guard Alex Copeland, used sparingly in his freshman year, has been huge for Yale. In 26 minutes a game, Copeland has averaged 13.3 points, 2.5 assists, and 1.7 rebounds per game. With solid wins against Washington and Patriot League-favorite Lehigh, Yale sits atop the Ivy power rankings.

Harvard

Last: Win vs. Howard, 67-46

The Crimson stumbled out of the gate, losing four of their first five games. But Harvard seems to have recovered from its early season blunders, and has gone undefeated in December. Siyani Chambers returned to action after missing all of last season with a torn ACL, and is fifth in the country at 7.6 assists per game. Freshmen Seth Towns and Bryce Aiken have been chief beneficiaries of Chambers’ distribution, and lead the Crimson in scoring, at 12.8 and 13.5 points per game, respectively. Harvard will be further bolstered by the return of senior co-captain Corbin Miller, who has been sidelined by a concussion. The Crimson have also turned up the heat defensively, holding Howard to 46 points and Houston (and its very good offense) to 56 points, ten points under its season average.

Princeton

Last week: Win vs. Cal Poly, 81-52

Ivy aficionados will recall that last season Princeton finished neck-and-neck with Yale, just missing out on the league title. Princeton started off strong this year, boosted by the return of much of its scoring power from last season: Henry Caruso, Spencer Weisz, and Steven Cook. Cook has tacked on four points from last season to average just above 15 points per game, good for fourth in the Ivy overall. Sophomore Devin Cannady, coming off of a solid freshman campaign, has continued to improve. Cannady is the Tiger’s second leading scorer behind Cook, and leads the team in steals per game at 1.7. However, December saw Princeton get hit hard with the injury bug, and it is yet to be seen if the Tigers can maintain their quality play. Senior Hans Brase was the first to fall, and more importantly, Caruso was lost of the season with a toe injury.

Penn

Last week: Win at Fairfield, 74-68

Penn sits in the middle of the pack at 5-5. The Quakers have lost games to some tough opponents this season (George Mason, Miami, Temple), but they’ve also won some defining games, including a 58-49 win at Central Florida 58-49 in December. The Quakers’ leading scorer up to this point has been freshman forward AJ Brodeur, at 14.4 points per game. Brodeur also leads the Ivy in blocks per game.

Columbia

Last week: Loss vs. Albany, 70-67.

After blowing out Div. III Manhattanville on Dec. 11, the Lions didn’t play for 17 days due to the final break. Since returning to action, Columbia has dropped its last two games to Albany and Miami. The Lions kick off conference play with a back-to-back games against Cornell. One bright spot for Columbia? With the loss of Maodo Lo and Grant Mullins, junior guard Nate Hickman has stepped up to assume leadership in the backcourt. Hickman’s minutes have more than doubled from last season (from 11 mpg to 28), and he’s averaged 14 points and 1.5 assists per game. You may not associate Ivy League basketball with posterizing dunks, but Hickman would like to tell you not to sleep on him.

Brown

Last week: Win vs. Quinnipiac, 66-61

Brown currently sits atop the Ivy standings, with a 9-5 record overall. After losing their two top producers, Cedric Kuakumensah and Tavon Blackmon, and promising prospects Justin and Jason Massey in the offseason, the Bears barreled out of the gate. Brown has already won more games this season than it did all of last season, and deserves credit for the strong start. Senior forward Steven Spieth has assumed leadership of the team, and is averaging 15.6 points per game, 6.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Spieth ranks in the top five in the Ivy for points per game, assists, and steals. It’s important to keep in mind that Brown has gone largely untested. The Bears have played a variety of non-Div. I opponents and non-250 Div. I opponents. Brown will be tested once conference play starts and the level of competition increases.

Cornell/ Dartmouth

Last week: (Cornell) Loss vs. UMass Lowell, 98-96, (Dartmouth) win vs. New Hampshire, 63-62.

The Ivy Group is stratified between the top and bottom four (the top being Princeton, Yale, Harvard, and Penn). Coming in at 3-10, Cornell has the worst record in the Ivy. Dartmouth went winless until December 18, and sits at 3-9. Ironically enough, Dartmouth and Cornell both have players prominently featured in overall Ivy statistics. Cornell sophomore guard Matt Morgan leads the Ivy in scoring at 18.7 points per game, and Dartmouth’s Evan Boudreaux leads the group in rebounds per game at 8.6.