I continue to be mildly surprised at the growing, though not universal, consensus that Princeton will be the League runner-up this year. I don't have a specific team in mind which should supplant the Tigers there. It's just that with Maddox and Mavraides having graduated, if Henderson in his first head-coaching job ever can take the Tigers to second place, he will have done an excellent job.In my humble opinion, Harvard is the runaway favorite and likely to finish 14-0, certainly no worse than 13-1, accounting for one fluke game. After the Crimson, it's basically a toss-up between Princeton, Yale, Penn and Cornell. Any of those four teams could finish second and I wouldn't categorically rule out a surprise from Brown or Columbia either.I can't remember the last time when second place in the Ivy League was this wide open.
In general, I agree with this observation. In annoiting the Tigers as runnerup, the external evaluation services are just being lazy and "tradition-bound." A team cannot lose an Ivy POY (really now), a 2.5-year starting guard, and a coach, and keep on tickin' at the same level. Considering only returning talent level and what they rung up last year, Hahvahd deserves to be tabbed top dog. Since one-in-four Ivy seasons has produced an undefeated champion and we haven't had one in four years, it's even time for one of those. Their schedule is favorable; they play (probably) their toughest game, at the JohnJLee (where losing two hearbreakers last year put them into a playoff and cost them an NCAA berth), the Friday of the first back-to-back. OTOH, past editions of Amaker's Crimson have had chronic issues with night-to-night consistency in league play that are unbecoming to a truly dominant champion. Because of this history, I think every Ivy team truly believes they have a legitimate shot at Hahvahd on any given night. However, to me, there are differences among the next four teams that could make second place not a toss-up. I think Yale actually has the inside track. They have the League's best frontcourt with Mangano (6'10" 240), Kreisberg (6'9" 235), and a spritz of Willhite. Yes, in comparison, Harvard is faking it upfront with just the undersized Wright (6'8" 240) and Casey (6'7", 215) [and his broken foot], passing as their 5 and 4, with no obvious quality backups. Yale also returns Morgan, their double digit scoring 2, who matches Princeton's Davis. These four players will provide alot of experienced leadership for the other four who end up filling out the rotation. Morgan will even play some point. In every year of the new millenium under Coach James Jones, Yale has finished in the Ivy's first division.Princeton has Ian Hummer and a bunch of serviceable big guys upfront, but some noticeable openings in the backcourt, after Douglas "last shot" Davis. Bray will probably get the other backcourt starting place, but the other backcourt rotation spots are up for grabs. Both Cornell and Penn have really good returning backcourts (better than either Yale's or Princeton's) and are either thin or unproven upfront. These teams' shortage of big men puts them at a mild net disadvantage to both Yale and Princeton. Rumor has it that the brittle Mike Howlett is 100% right now. In full health, he's a Mangano-level post. If Coach can protect him throughout the season by keeping his minutes down, Dougherty continues to develop, and frosh Louis can contribute, Penn has an edge over Cornell for fourth place, and will be tough on Yale and Princeton. A good recruiting season has added many options to some promising but untested returnees in Cornell's frontcourt, but all must improve for Cornell to compete up front on the level of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Penn. It's not that "things" cannot happen, but it looks to me as if it will take more surprises to propel Penn or Cornell into second place than either Yale or Princeton. Over the course of the season, I don't see any significant shocks coming from Providence or Morningside Heights.
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