Sunday, January 29, 2012

Men's Basketball Power Rankings

Several players from Harvard Men's Basketball

Harvard (18-2, 4-0) – Defense has been Harvard’s calling card all season, and with a masterpiece victory over Yale, followed up by a smooth win over Brown, Harvard left no doubt in the Ivy League's pecking order. With a deep bench (Amaker often using a 10 or 11 man rotation) led by Freshmen playmakers like Mondou-Missi (10 pts, 5 rbs over Yale), the Crimson has the ability to wear teams out with a punishing pace. Fantastic, selfless guard play by Curry and McNally (17 total assists over the weekend) has the Crimson poised for a title repeat.

Penn (10-9, 2-0) – Penn played its final nonconference matchup against St. Joseph’s, an offensive shootout that saw Penn squander a 23 point lead in the second half. As always, the guards, Tyler Bernardini (24 pts) and Zack Rosen (16 pts) played lights out. However, outside the two Ivy League victories, Penn has given up more than 68 points in 14 of 17 games. The Quakers will have to play better defensively, especially in the perimeter as they prepare to play the Tigers in their 225th game against each other Monday night at The Palestra.

Yale (13-5, 3-1) – The Bulldogs started off strong against Harvard, but the Cerberus that is Mangano, Morgan (1-3 FG), and Willhite (0-5 FG) only combined for 23 points, 17 of them coming from Mangano alone. In the classic offense vs. defense matchup, defense struck first, and Harvard downed Yale by its largest ever win (by margin of victory) over the Bulldogs, 65-35. The Bulldogs must clamp down on perimeter defense and find offensive options outside Cerberus to rebound next week against Penn and Princeton.

Princeton (10-8, 1-1) – Princeton faces off against the Penn Quakers after nearly two weeks off, cooling off a momentum marked by 9 of 12 wins after a 1-5 start to the season. The difference? Incorporating F Mack Darrow into the starting lineup, who has been an amazing pass-first playmaker for the Tigers. Make no mistake, the veteran team led by Ian Hummer and Doug Davis have their sights on a title repeat and will make the Quakers pay for any defensive mistakes or poor shooting.

Cornell (7-11, 2-2) – Cornell managed the split the series against Columbia with a 65-60 victory over the Lions last night. Shonn Miller (10pts, 4rbs) continues to fill the stat sheet, even coming off the bench, and with a victory over Princeton already under its belts, the Big Red will head to Cambridge to a sold out crowd at Lavietes, looking to cause another upset. The key for Cornell will be to establish its interior players, like Eltan Chemerinski, and to rely on Drew Ferry to draw double teams to create mismatches.

Brown (7-14, 1-3) – Brown presented a balanced offense, with all five starters in double digit points, to carry only a four-point deficit heading into the second half, but a sluggish start in the second by the Bears led to a 11-0 run that sealed the game. Brown found no answer for Kyle Casey and Keith Wright, who both dominated the paint. A formidable weekend against the Ivy League's top teams, Penn and Princeton, loom next week.

Columbia (12-8, 1-3)
– With a 47-33 deficit 5 minutes into the second half, Brian Barbour shifted into a whole near gear, hitting 16 points to rally the Lions to a tie at 53 with just under 8 minutes remaining. A late fade in which Columbia missed key opportunities, including three straight misses on great looks, and a tired squad (a manifestation of Columbia’s mediocre bench) was the deciding factor. The Lions look to turn it around next week on the road when they face the celler-dweller Big Green and the Crimson, who hasn’t lost at Lavietes all season.

Dartmouth (4-16, 0-4) – Dartmouth actually played the Bulldogs close, leading much of the first half… until the final 9 minutes of the game when the Big Green could not find an answer for Willhite and Yale’s perimeter shooting, which hit 6-13 threes, most coming off the final stretch. The Big Green will have to shake off its inability to close out big games (as evidenced yesterday against Yale and against Harvard previously), perhaps by incorporating Sophomore Tyler Melville, a talented shooter, more into its gameplan. The Big Green face Columbia and Cornell next weekend.

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