Sunday, February 20, 2011

Week 16 Powerpoll: Brown Draws First Blood

Despite some shaky moments, Ivy leaders Harvard and Princeton entered Saturday night 15-0 against the rest of the league, just nine wins away from a clean sweep.

The Crimson held up its end of the bargain with a 61-42 win at Columbia last night, but the Tigers couldn't get past a Brown squad, rejuvenated by the return of its captain, Peter Sullivan. Sullivan went 16-for-16 from the free throw line as the Bears posted the third most efficient offensive performance against Princeton (behind Presbyterian and Duke) all season.

Meanwhile, Penn rebounded from its disastrous four-game stretch where it lost three times in overtime before getting blown out at Columbia with a road sweep and season sweep of  Yale and Brown. The win over the Bulldogs on Saturday night knocked them out of postseason contention but kept the Quakers slim CBI or CIT hopes alive. Penn needs to hold serve against the Big Red and Lions this upcoming weekend, win at Dartmouth and split with Harvard and Princeton to get to 15-13 (9-5 Ivy), which should be enough to at least get into consideration.

With that, let's get to this week's rankings:


8. Dartmouth (8)

The Big Green showed signs of life at Columbia, closing a 19-point deficit to six with under five remaining, but the Lions nailed a crucial three to stem the Dartmouth run en route to a seven-point win. The following night, the Big Green registered its first no-show since losing at Penn, as Cornell dropped 96 points, and it could have easily been more.


7. Cornell (6)

It's downright unjust to have to put a No. 7 next to any of the non-Dartmouth Ivies, but sequential ordering means some team has to fall here. It's weird to think that this year's number seven team is ranked high enough in the Pomeroy Ratings to be third or even second in the Ivies during some seasons. The three point bombers from Ithaca do get a shot at four of the six teams in front of them over the next two weeks.

6. Brown (7)

The Bears remained afloat without captain Peter Sullivan and didn't look amazingly improved Friday night with him back in the lineup. Then, Sullivan went 16-for-16 from the line on Saturday, as Brown took down last week's No. 1 Princeton, 75-65. Next up, the Bears host another team at the top of this list on Friday night.


5. Yale (3)

A week after having its legitimate title hopes crushed in a close loss at Harvard, the Bulldogs got swept at home by the P's, potentially knocking them out of the top four entirely. Yale has an easy home date with Dartmouth followed up by three games in which it will be a slight underdog (vs. Harvard, at Cornell and Columbia). Best case scenario looks like 7-7, which will be in the mix, but not guaranteed to be solo fourth.

4. Columbia (4)

Took advantage of the softening schedule to grab back-to-back wins against Penn and Dartmouth, but the Lions were a complete no-show at home against the league favorites, losing to Princeton by 30 and Harvard by 19. Columbia's gaudy record notwithstanding, the Lions do not have postseason hopes, even if they win out, but an upper division finish would be likely, if they can split the P's road trip.


3. Penn (5)

After seemingly finally staggering off the cliff in a decisive loss at Columbia, on the heels of three-straight extra session defeats, the Quakers rebounded with an impressive sweep of Yale and Brown to regain control of third place in the league. Now, Penn has the inside track to be the only other Ivy team, aside from Princeton and Harvard, to finish above .500 with three easily winnable games (vs. Cornell and Columbia, at Dartmouth) as well as two chances to cause chaos in the Ivy race (at Harvard, vs. Princeton).


2. Princeton (1)

One win away from surviving a four-game road swing and hitting an easy portion of the schedule (vs. Cornell and Columbia, at Dartmouth), the Tigers got tripped up by the mercurial Bears in Providence on Saturday night. Brown went 25-27 from the line against the league's No. 1 free throw "defense," a expected regression to the mean that hurt Princeton. The Tigers are heavy favorites to show up in Boston at 11-1 still, which would, at worst, leave them tied with Harvard in the loss column heading into that March 5th contest.

1. Harvard (2)

The Crimson has finally found its formula for success and seems more determined than ever to stick to it. Harvard got to the line at impressive clips this weekend, making 47-of-53 freebies over two games en route to a dominating Cornell/Columbia road trip. The Crimson held the Lions to the best eFG% allowed (35.1) of the season and Cornell to eighth best (45.8). Harvard still has the tremendously tricky Brown/Yale road trip coming up, so the Crimson still has plenty of hurdles to showing up with just one loss to face Princeton on March 5.

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