Instead, the third-place Quakers enter this weekend with a 5-4 league record, and they are chasing frontrunners Harvard (9-1) and Princeton (8-1). Penn can gain one of those games back from both of them down the road, of course -- the Quakers face the Crimson next Saturday in Cambridge, and finish with the Tigers at The Palestra on March 8. Beyond that, though, the best Penn can do is take care of its own business and hope for outside help.
GAME 24 - PENN (11-12, 5-4 Ivy) vs. COLUMBIA (14-10, 5-5)
The Palestra (Philadelphia)
Friday, Feb. 25, 2011 * 7 p.m.
TV: Comcast Network (Scott Graham, John Griffin)
Radio: ESPN 950 AM (Brian Seltzer, Stan Pawlak)
Around the League
While Penn hosts Columbia and Cornell this weekend, Princeton (8-1) will try to stay tied in the loss column at the top of the standings as the Tigers host the Big Red on Friday and the Lions on Saturday at Jadwin Gym. In the other half of the league, Harvard (9-1) will try to stay atop the standings with a dangerous trip to Brown (3-7) and then Yale (5-5) -- the Bears beat Princeton last week in Providence, of course, and you can never count the Bulldogs out in an H-Y battle. Dartmouth (1-9) is at Yale Friday and at Brown Saturday.
The Columbia/Cornell Weekend
The Quakers have swept this home weekend 39 of the 51 times they have played it. They have split it 10 times, and been swept twice. Of course, one of those two times came two years ago, in 2009, and that sweep was sandwiched between splits in 2008 and 2010.
Penn vs. Columbia
*The Quakers and the Lions have met 218 times, with Penn holding a 133-85 advantage in the series.
*That said, Columbia has held the upper hand in recent years -- the Lions have won three straight from the Quakers, four of the last five, and five of the last seven. Of Penn's two wins during that stretch, one of them came when Kevin Egee hit a desperation three-point shot at the buzzer.
*Two weeks ago, Columbia overpowered Penn in the second half, breaking a 35-35 halftime tie to win going away, 75-62, at Levien Gym in New York City. Noruwa Agho led the Lions with 21 points, while Asenso Ampim had 15 and Brian Barbour added 14. Jack Eggleston had 16 points to lead the Quakers, while Cameron Gunter and Zack Rosen tallied 12 apiece. (For Gunter, they were the first 12 points of his collegiate career.) Rosen also had seven assists.
*Last year, Columbia swept Penn for the first time since 1968, winning 66-62 here at The Palestra and then gaining a 56-55 win when Brian Grimes -- a transfer from La Salle -- hit a shot at the buzzer in New York.
Penn vs. Cornell
*The Quakers and the Big Red have played 215 times, with Penn holding a 143-72 lead in the series.
*Much like Columbia, however, Cornell has dominated the series of late, winning six of the last seven matchups including two of the last three here at The Palestra. Prior to this Big Red run, the Quakers had won 18 straight in the series from 1999-2007.
*Two weeks ago, Penn could not hold onto a nine-point lead in the second half and ultimately fell to Cornell, 82-71, in overtime at Newman Arena in Ithaca. Chris Wroblewski had 21 points to lead the Big Red, while Max Groebe went 6-of-8 on three-point shots en route to 20 points. For Penn, Eggleston scored 21 and had nine rebounds and five assists, while Rosen scored 15 points -- including his 1,000th at Penn -- and added six assists.
*The rivalry has ramped up in recent years, as Cornell's current three-year run as Ivy League champion overtook Penn's three-year run before that. Last year, of course, Penn pinned Cornell with its only Ivy League loss, a 79-64 decision here at The Palestra.
Three's a Crowd?
Since Penn last played at home, two players have joined the 1,000-point club. Zack Rosen reached the milestone two weeks ago at Cornell, while Tyler Bernardini got there last Saturday at Yale. They joined Jack Eggleston, who scored his 1,000th point in December.
Bernardini was named Co-Ivy League Player of the Week (with Brown's Peter Sullivan) and Philadelphia Big 5 Player of the Week for his efforts at Brown and Yale. Friday in Providence, Bernardini scored a game-high 26 points, hitting six three-pointers which matched a career high. He followed that up with 16 more points on Saturday. Over Penn's last 14 games, he is averaging 16.7 ppg.
Over(time) and Over(time) and Over(time) Again...
*Penn has played five overtime games this season, and they came in a nine-game stretch from January 12 (at La Salle) to last Friday (at Cornell). The program record for OT games in a season is six, set in 1983-84. (As an aside, all of those 83-84 OT games came in Ivy play.)
*Four of Penn's seven Ivy League games have gone to extra time, with the Quakers going 1-3 in those contests. That includes a double-overtime affair with Harvard on February 5. Add it all up, and Penn has played an extra 25 minutes of Ivy League action this season-more than half a game.
*Penn had a three-game stretch of overtime games from Feb. 5 to Feb. 11, one shy of the NCAA record of four held by three separate teams (most recently Dayton in 1988). The Quakers also played three straight OT games in 1983-84. That year, Penn went 2-1. This year, the Quakers lost all three. In an informal survey of the SIDs at the NCAA Division I level, it appears Penn holds the dubious distinction of being the only team to play three straight OT games and lose all three.
*Junior Zack Rosen enters the weekend with 127 assists this season. He needs six more to move into a tie for 10th place on Penn's single-season list with his current head coach, Jerome Allen (133 in 27 games in 1992-93). Since the statistic became official at Penn in 1978-79, the only players in history to have 100 or more assists in three straight seasons are Rosen, Allen (1993-95), Paul Chambers (1990-92) and Michael Jordan (1998-2000). Unlike Rosen, who still has a year left, the other three players did it their sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
*Rosen enters this weekend with 390 career assists, putting him fifth all-time at Penn. Of the current group that makes up the top five, only one has a better per-game average than Rosen's 4.94 -- Chambers, barely, at 4.95.
Quaker Notemeal From The Brown/Yale Trip
*Penn matched its Ivy League win total from last year with the victories.
*After having just two of its final 12 non-Ivy League games finish with a single-digit margin, Penn has had six such games in Ivy play.
*Taking it a step further, Penn did not play a non-conference game that ended with a margin of less than five, but has had four such games so far in Ivy play.
*It was Penn's first sweep of an Ivy League road weekend since Feb. 13-14, 2009; that year, the Quakers beat Brown on a Friday and Yale on a Saturday.
*In the last four games, the Quakers have shot 97 of 194 (50.0 percent) from the field.
*In the win at Yale, Penn won a game when it made fewer free throws than its opponent for the first time this season; prior to that, the Quakers were 0-11 in such games.
*Junior Mike Howlett made his first start this season at Yale; he entered the weekend with seven points for the season, but had 21 combined at Brown and Yale.
*Senior Jack Eggleston finished with 10 rebounds at Yale, his ninth double-figure rebounding game in 2010-11 and 16th at Penn.
*Freshman Miles Cartwright finished with 10 points at Yale, his fifth double-figure scoring game in Ivy play.
*Rosen shot 8-of-8 from the foul line at Brown Friday night, tied for the best free-throw performance by a Penn player in the Allen coaching era.