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Ivy League Conference Report - First Six Weeks
Max Wasserman
| December 21, 2007
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College basketball is approaching the end of the early season games and is about to enter the conference season. Which means everyoneís favorite high profile, low skills league is about to commence with the smart kid-on-smart kid beatdowns. Thatís right, Iím talkiní about the Ivy League, the Ancient Eight, the Last Amateurs, Black Mamba, or the Ocho. Whatever you call it, itís about to hit the fan in it. But to see whoís got the momentum heading into the league games, letís look back on what happened in the first month and a half. '''Team With The Best Six Weeks''' Okay letís be honest. Thereís not much to pick from here. Only three teams are at .500 or better as of today, but none of them have been incredibly impressive. League favorite Cornell is 4-3 after playing no defense against Bucknell last night. Losing to the Bison by double digits is pretty bad, as this is not the Bucknell of two years ago, but losing to Colgate at home is worse. Brown is 5-4 and doesnít have any bad losses. They did get crushed by Michigan on the road, but that was before Michigan realized that they suck (and subsequently lost to Harvard). However, they donít have anything special in the win column either. The Bears won on the road against Northwestern, or as I call them, Michigan lite, and beat Quinnipiac in overtime. Then thereís Dartmouth, who is at 5-5 after getting pounded by Quinnipiac last night. In the other column, the Green have a road victory over Colgate, a one point win against Vermont, and a blowout against the Webster College Fighting Emmanuelle Lewises. In the end, Iím going to have to go with '''Dartmouth''' as the team of the first six weeks. With five wins, theyíre already more than halfway to equaling last yearís total. '''Team With The Worst Six Weeks''' Thereís a weird coincidence going on with the teams at the bottom of the league table. Apparently, the Ivy League schools with the worse records played more high profile games and better teams. Who knew? Anyway, of the five teams with losing records, Columbia, at 4-6, has some not-too-bad wins over Delaware State and Wagner, despite being de-stroyed by Albany. And, unlike Cornell so far, theyíve also played most of their games on the road. Yale, at 3-6, has no impressive wins and most of its losses have come against very good teams. The one that wasnít so good came against Boston U., as it happened in a sport not played on ice by people with mullets. So the Jones brothers can relax, their teams are still in good shape going into league play. Harvard, meanwhile, isnít doing so well. Sure, they were predicted to finish towards the bottom of the league with Dartmouth, but their early schedule isnít nearly as tough as some of the other teams and theyíre still only at 4-9 so far. In the first year of Tommy Amakerís giant step backwards, the Crimson have lost to several teams its conference rivals beat (Lehigh, Long Island, Vermont, and Boston U) making for a horrible start to the season. Amaker did get some matter of revenge in a double digit home win over Michigan, and that has saved everyoneís least favorite school from having an atrocious start to the season. So now weíre down to the traditional powers, who have a combined 6 wins at this points in the season. Sure P & P play much tougher schedules than every other team in the Ivy due to their high profiles, but each has at least one terrible, horrible, no good very bad loss. Princeton is 2-8 with all their losses coming in the last 8 games. Granted, some of the losses were to very good teams (Duke and Seton Hall) and some pretty good teams (Rutgers and Arizona State). The rest, however, you might not want to talk about. Losses to Penn State, Evansville, and worst of all, a loss to Division II Chaminade in the last place game of the Maui Invitational. It was only Chaminadeís fifth win in the history of the tournament. However, Chaminade was playing on their home court and Princeton was playing for the third straight day after losing to Devils both Blue and Sun. Which is why '''Penn''' receives the title of worst start to the season. Sure, they won tonight to improve to 4-7 after beating Elon tonight, and their schedule has been tough, including a home loss to North Carolina. However, there was another team that Penn lost to at home that isnít quite as good as the Tar Heels. Thatís right, the Penn Quakers, the class of the Ivy League for the past three plus years, lost on their home court to Howard. Let that sink in. Howard, a team that is routinely in the bottom of the MEAC, a conference that is routinely in the bottom of the conference RPI, beat Penn in Philly. Unlike Princeton regarding Chaminade, Penn has no excuse for falling to Howard. Iíd say that hopefully the Quakers can pull it together come the new year, but I donít. I hate them, and I hope they continue to fail. '''Player of the First Six Weeks''' This title comes down to a battle between two tweeners: Dartmouthís Alex Barnett and Cornellís Ryan Wittman. They are numbers 2 and 3 in the Ivy League in scoring at 16.0 and 15.3 points per game respectively. In terms of rebounds, Barnett pulls down an average of only one rebound a game (6.7 to 5.7 rpg). They both have high field goal percentages (52.7% for Barnett, 54.2% for Wittman). Now hereís where they differ. Barnett leads the Ivy League in blocked shots with 17 for an average of 1.89 a game. Quite impressive for a guy whoís only 6-6. But Iím giving this award to '''Ryan Wittman''' for two reasons. One, I already gave Dartmouth an award earlier and I feel I need to share the love. And two, Wittman has been unstoppable from beyond the arc. Heís shooting 54.8% from three point range, which leads the league. And before the Bucknell game, he was shooting 60.6% from three. In addition, he leads the league in three pointers per game with 3.28. The next closest, Brownís Damon Huffman, only averages 2.67. Oh yeah, and going back to three point percentage, Wittman is 15th in the country in that category, leading such big names as Oregonís Malik Hairston and Oklahomaís Tony Crocker. Now thatís how the Ivy does it. '''Games To Watch''' There are a few more non-conference games before the Ivy League season really gets underway. Here are the ones to keep an eye on, complete with snarky comments. '''Cornell at Syracuse, 12/22''' Itís the battle of colors. Now that Navy finally beat Notre Dame, this could now be the most lopsided rivalry in college sports. The Orange just became a very young team after losing Eric Devendorf, and they have been quite unpredictable this season, losing to two A-10 schools in UMass and Rhode Island. But donít expect an upset. Just wait until lacrosse season. Or, now that Greg Robinson was inexplicably given another year as Orange football coach, Cornell could beat them there too. '''Columbia at Villanova, 12/22''' The Lions could make a statement here, but wonít. '''Yale at Kansas, 12/29''' This has nothing to do with the game or even basketball, but did you ever see that picture of Mark Mangino with Obie, the Orange Bowl mascot? Here it is. [[image|file=mangino.jpg|width=500|align=left]] Hilarious. '''Dartmouth at Siena, 12/31''' Siena beat Stanford, but lost to Cornell. Letís see if the Green can match the Red. '''Cornell at Duke, 1/6''' The Crazies will need the weeks off to cope with Dukeís loss to Pitt and the loss of Dick Vitaleís unequivocal love for the year. '''Yale at Longwood, 1/8''' Heh heh. I wonder what Longwoodís nickname is. Oh waith, I know, itís '''[censored by editor]'''. So that wraps up the Ivy League so far. Unfortunately, it looks like whoever wins this year will be sent to the play-in game vs. Alabama A&M come tournament time. Oh, well. Iíll see you in Dayton!
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