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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Harvard Hosts Columbia and Cornell in Big Ivy Weekend



Next for Harvard basketball:

vs. Columbia Lions
When: Friday, January 28th at 7pm
Where: Lavietes Pavilion
Coverage: Live-blog here at WHRB Sports Blog

vs. Cornell Big Red
When: Saturday, January 29th at 6pm
Where: Lavietes Pavilion
Coverage: Live-blog here at WHRB Sports Blog

After starting 2-0 in Ivy League play with wins over travel-partner Dartmouth, the Harvard Crimson (13-3, 2-0 Ivy) play host to the Columbia Lions and the Cornell Big Red this weekend at Lavietes Pavilion. It is always important to hold serve at home in the Ivy League, and is especially true this week considering the monster weekend facing the Crimson next week at Princeton and Penn.

Columbia's Noruwa Agho

Columbia Lions (11-5, 2-0 Ivy)

Although Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell were predicted to battle it out for Ivy League supremacy, Columbia has emerged as a possible conference dark horse with two wins over the Big Red last weekend. The Lions faced a lackluster non-league schedule but emerged with only five losses, the best coming against Steve Lavin's Saint John's team by a score of 79-66. Columbia survived two close games with Cornell, winning 79-75 last Friday in New York City and following that up with a 70-66 win in Newman Arena. The Lions, who have now won 9 of their past 11 games, are led by 6-3 Junior Guard Noruwa Agho, one of the top players in the Ivy League. Agho leads the Ancient Eight in scoring with 16.3 points per game and adds 4.6 assists per game, good for fifth in the Ivy League. The Crimson will need to focus on Agho if they wish to move to 3-0 in Ivy play. Sophomore Brian Barbour adds 12.9ppg for the Lions.

Cornell's Chris Wroblewski

Cornell Big Red (4-12, 0-2 Ivy)

Much to the delight of the rest of the Ivy League, Cornell appears to have fallen from its perch as the Ancient Eight's inevitable champion. The Big Red have taken a tumble from last year's Sweet Sixteen appearance and third straight Ivy title. This slide was somewhat expected, as Cornell's head coach Steve Donahue moved on to coach the Boston College Eagles, and six Big Red seniors, including star big man Jeff Foote and guard Louis Dale, graduated. Cornell was picked to finish 3rd in the Ivy League behind Princeton and Harvard, but so far seem to be performing below expectations with only four total wins. The nonconference slate for Cornell was tough, facing such big-name teams as Syracuse (lost by 20), Seton Hall (lost by 24), and Minnesota (only lost by 5). Cornell has struggled with lesser competition, however, losing to the likes of Albany, Binghamton, and Bucknell. Cornell was then swept by Columbia, giving the Big Red its first 0-2 league start since the 2001-02 season.

The Harvard Crimson should take note, however, that this Cornell team remains a talented bunch, as Donahue did not leave the cupboard bare. Chris Wroblewski, one of the stars of last year's team, is second in the Ivy League in scoring at 15.5ppg and leads the conference in assists with 5.9 assists per game (Harvard guard Brandyn Curry is second with 5.6). Junior guard Andrew Ferry has stepped up in a big way for Cornell too, averaging over 12 points per game.

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Although Harvard will be favored in both contests this weekend, both opponents will be tough to put away. Raucous crowds are expected on both nights, and hopefully the momentum of a loud Lavietes Pavilion will be enough to carry the Crimson through.

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