Friday, February 8, 2013

Ivy League Office Weekend Preview

PRINCETON, N.J. -- This weekend projects to be a pivotal one for Ivy League men's basketball with Harvard and Princeton poised to create separation from the rest of the pack with both teams looking to stay undefeated in conference play. 

Harvard (12-6, 4-0 Ivy League) and Princeton (10-7, 3-0 Ivy) have tough challenges to remain undefeated and potentially set up a first-place showdown in Cambridge next Saturday on the NBC Sports Network. The Crimson has its first back-to-back road trip heading to Cornell (10-11, 2-2 Ivy) on Friday night and Columbia (9-9, 1-3 Ivy) on Saturday night, while the Tigers enjoy their friendly confines against Brown (8-10, 2-2 Ivy) on Friday night and Yale (7-14, 1-3) on Saturday night.

Harvard's success so far this season can be pegged by the play of sophomore guard/forward Wesley Saundersand freshman point guard Siyani Chambers. In four conference games, Saunders is averaging 18.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 7.0 assists per contest, while Chambers is averaging 17.8 points per game.

Princeton has relied on its experience, paced by senior forward Ian Hummer, who leads the team in points (15.9 ppg), rebounds (6.7 rpg) and assists (4.5 apg). Hummer has been getting a lot of help over the Tigers' current five-game winning streak as sophomore forward Denton Koon (13.0 ppg), junior guard T.J. Bray (12.0 ppg) and junior forward Will Barrett (11.4 ppg) are each averaging double figures during the streak.

Both Cornell and Brown need big weekends to stay in the top half of the standings.

The Big Red has won six of its last nine games with senior guard Johnathan Gray leading the way over that stretch at 13.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Head coach Bill Courtney has to hope senior forward Errick Peck has more big games in him like the school record 8-of-8 performance from the floor that propelled Cornell to the win at Penn on Feb. 2.

Brown also hopes one of its top post players, sophomore Rafael Maia, continues his hot streal after a 10-of-11 showing for a career-high 21 points in a win at Dartmouth on Feb. 1. Maia added 12 points and four rebounds in the Bears' double-overtime loss at Harvard to earn Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors for the second time.

Penn (4-16, 1-2 Ivy) joins Princeton in hosting Yale and Brown this weekend and needs its man in the middle, freshman center Darien Nelson-Henry, to continue his strong play to get the Quakers in the title mix. Nelson-Henry has reached double-digit points in each of his last seven games, averaging 13.6 ppg over that span.

Yale and Columbia (9-9, 1-3 Ivy) have their sights on rebounding from disappointing weekends as both were winless to start the month. Bulldog forward Matt Townsend is coming in off a solid two-game strech that saw him average 12 points and six rebounds in the team's losses at Harvard and Dartmouth. Freshman guard Maodo Lo has stepped up his play in Columbia's last three contests. He is averaging 9.6 points during this stretch and has started the last nine games for the Lions.

Conversely, Dartmouth (5-13, 1-3 Ivy) enters the weekend off a positive note, grabbing its first Ivy victory of the season last Saturday. The Big Green has its sights set on sustaining the momentum in its road games at Columbia and Cornell. Head coach Paul Cormier shook up his lineup in the last game and it paid off. The team's leading scorer, sophomore forward Gabas Maldunas, came off the bench with a 16-point, eight-rebound effort. Maldunas leads Dartmouth in scoring (10.8 ppg), rebounds (6.2 rpg) and blocks (0.9 bpg).

Brown (8-10, 2-2 Ivy) at Princeton (10-7, 3-0 Ivy)
Date: Friday, February 8 – 7 p.m.
Location: Jadwin Gymnasium • Princeton, N.J.
Brown-Princeton Series: Princeton leads, 92-26
Last Meeting: Princeton 81, Brown 47 • 3/3/12 • Princeton, N.J.

Dartmouth (5-13, 1-3 Ivy) at Columbia (9-9, 1-3 Ivy)
Date: Friday, February 8 – 7 p.m.
Location: Levien Gymnasium • New York
Dartmouth-Columbia Series: Columbia leads, 107-95
Last Meeting: Columbia 61, Dartmouth 55 • 3/3/12 • New York

Harvard (12-6, 4-0 Ivy) at Cornell (10-11, 2-2 Ivy)
Date: Friday, February 8 – 7 p.m.
Location: Newman Arena • Ithaca, N.Y.
Harvard-Cornell Series: Cornell leads, 90-72
Last Meeting: Harvard 67, Cornell 63 • 3/3/12 • Ithaca, N.Y.

Yale (7-14, 1-3 Ivy) at Penn (4-16, 1-2 Ivy)
Date: Friday, February 8 – 7 p.m.
Location: The Palestra • Philadelphia
Yale-Penn: Penn leads, 146-70
Last Meeting: Penn 68, Yale 47 • 3/3/12 • Philadelphia

Yale at Princeton
Date: Saturday, February 9 – 6 p.m.
Location: Jadwin Gymnasium • Princeton, N.J.
Yale-Princeton Series: Princeton leads, 144-82
Last Meeting: Princeton 64, Yale 57 • 3/2/12 • Princeton, N.J.

Brown at Penn
Date: Saturday, February 9 – 7 p.m.
Location: The Palestra • Philadelphia
Brown-Penn Series: Penn leads, 101-21
Last Meeting: Penn 54, Brown 43 • 3/2/12 • Philadelphia

Harvard at Columbia
Date: Saturday, February 9 – 7 p.m.
Location: Levien Gymnasium • New York
Harvard-Columbia Series: Columbia leads, 93-75
Last Meeting: Harvard 77, Columbia 70 (ot) • 3/2/12 • New York

Dartmouth at Cornell
Date: Saturday, February 9 – 7 p.m.
Location: Newman Arena • Ithaca, N.Y.
Dartmouth-Cornell Series: Tied, 102-102
Last Meeting: Cornell 70, Dartmouth 57 • 3/2/12 • Ithaca, N.Y.

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