The Ivy League is three weeks away from playing its first ever conference tournament, which will feature the top four teams in the standings.
As play enters the final stretch, Penn is the dividing line between the conference’s haves and have nots (for now). Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and Penn sit atop the league, with Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and Brown looking up.
Time change❗️: @Princeton_Hoops' game on @ESPNU next Friday vs. Harvard is a 5 p.m. start. pic.twitter.com/BN4rf238lS— Princeton Tigers (@PUTIGERS) February 21, 2017
Princeton has won an astonishing 13 games straight, and with the Tigers 19-point route of Yale on Friday night, is the first team to officially qualify for the Ivy League tournament. With four games left in the regular season, and sitting four games in front of Harvard, the Tigers look like a pretty sure bet for the number one seed. Princeton is heavily favored in its remaining games, and the Tigers have a chance to become the first team to run the table in the Ivy League since 2008. Princeton’s run is even more incredible considering it’s playing without two key players out due to injury: Henry Caruso and Hans Brase.
Meanwhile, Harvard, winner of five of the past six Ivy League regular season titles, appears to be on the brink of relinquishing the title for the second straight season. Princeton is on track to win its first regular season championship in six years, save for this crazy scenario tweeted by NYC Buckets. The Crimson made headlines in the offseason with their flashy freshman class, which has not disappointed. Bryce Aiken has been a star all season, and should be among the favorites for Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Aiken leads the team in scoring (14.3 PPG), the first time a freshman has done so for the Crimson since 1987-88. Seth Towns, a four star recruit, has also come on as of late. He’s recorded two 20+ point performances in February, his first such string of the season.
For its part, Yale enters the final stretch of the season on a three-game losing skid. As a part of that skid, the Bulldogs saw their 22-game home court win streak come to an end. The streak had been good for fifth in the country. Recent losses haven’t been bad, coming to Harvard, Princeton, and Penn. Yale has the talent to compete for the title, but will need to be able to beat the league’s top teams to get there. Not only did the Bulldogs most recent three losses come against that competition, but two of the defeats were lopsided. In a critical rebound game for the Bulldogs, they face off against Harvard this Friday night. Yale is likely set in the third seed for the four team tournament.
Congrats Ryan Betley, co-Ivy ROTW and co-Big 5 POTW! Honored after a great weekend for him and THE TEAM! https://t.co/zraG31CnZT #Whānau pic.twitter.com/MtYKFqpV5z— Penn Basketball (@PennBasketball) February 20, 2017
Penn started league play against Princeton with a nine-point loss. The Quakers went on to lose their next five games against conference opponents, and looked to be floundering. On Feb. 10, something seemed to switch for Penn, and since then the team has been unstoppable, logging convincing wins against Columbia, Cornell, Brown, and Yale. Two weeks ago, with the season on the brink, the Quakers were four games out from the final seat in the tournament. Fast forward to today, and the Quakers are statistically tied with Columbia for the last spot, with a potential season series tie-breaking game on Feb. 25. KenPom currently sees that crucial game as a toss-up, with the Quakers having a 51 percent chance of victory. Besides Columbia, Penn’s last four games come against Cornell and Dartmouth, in which it is favored in, as well as second-place Harvard.
Brown @ Dartmouth
Princeton @ Columbia
Penn @ Cornell
Yale @ Harvard
Princeton @ Cornell
Brown @ Harvard
Penn @ Columbia
Yale @ Dartmouth