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Around the Ivies: Men's basketball

The Ivies are off to a great start this basketball season, and most of the teams look like they will be boasting excellent records when they start Ivy play. Here’s how the Ancient Eight breaks down after the first few weeks of competition against non-league opponents:

1. Harvard (7-1): Though wins over Wisconsin-Green Bay and MIT (yes, apparently they do have a team!) may not count as “marquee,” the Crimson is undoubtedly legitimate this season. Harvard has shot out to a great start thanks largely to the contributions of junior guard Wesley Saunders, who was recently named Most Outstanding Player as the Crimson swept the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout (yes, apparently teams will travel to a tournament in Alaska!).

2. Princeton (5-1): The Tigers are off to their best start since the senior year of head coach Mitch Henderson ’98 and would have a perfect record if they had managed four more points against Butler at the start of the season. Princeton recorded an impressive win over George Mason and recently downed Bucknell in Lewisburg; it has averaged 70 points per game. Senior guard T.J. Bray is responsible for 13.7 per game, having picked up where he left off last season despite an early injury, and sophomore forward Hans Brase is right behind him, chipping in 12.2.

3. Brown (5-2): After posting a respectable .500 record in the Ivy League last year, Brown is hoping it can break through this year. The Bears have proven they are tough, coming back from a halftime deficit against Central Connecticut State last weekend to win by 11. In that game, 18 points came from guard Sean McGonagill, and 26 came from the Bears’ bench.

4. Yale (4-3): The Bulldogs, ruiners of Princeton’s season last year, are out to prove that their four-point victory in Jadwin Gymnasium last season was no fluke. Yale has been fun to watch thus far, putting up over 70 points in four of seven games. The Bulldogs defeated Lafayette 79-76 not long after Princeton beat the Leopards 81-80, just one of many indications that sparks will fly this season when the Blue and White meet the Orange and the Black.

5. Penn (2-4): Its record is not ideal, but Penn is second in the league in field goal percentage for a reason. The Quakers’ accuracy is sure to bedevil the rest of the league soon enough, but for the meantime they are challenging themselves with opponents who are a bit tougher than those of many other Ivies. Just for the sake of comparison: They lost to Lafayette 79-76. That could mean they’re worse than Princeton and Yale, or it could mean nothing at all.

6. Dartmouth (3-1): Other than its one loss, the Big Green appears not to have been challenged yet this season. It started its season with a 106-61 victory over Lyndon State, and its other two wins have been 77-59 and 81-56. Dartmouth will fall back to earth in Ivy play, but its ability to score is something of which the rest of the league needs to take note. Alex Mitola and Connor Boehm score a combined 25.3 points per game, while Boehm leads the league with a phenomenal .688 field goal percentage.

7. Columbia (4-4): A scrappy Columbia team has gone .500 so far this season, and the Lions would be at 5-3 had they gotten a few good more shots to fall in a 68-65 overtime loss to Elon. If they go anywhere this season, the Lions will owe it to their defense — their 62.1 points allowed per game is second-best in the Ivy League.

8. Cornell (0-9): This season looks as bleak as an Ithaca winter for the Cornell Big Red. Cornell is worst in the Ivy League in, well, a lot of statistical categories. Hey, Nolan Cressler sure looks good, though — he’s averaging 18.1 points per game!

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