Harvard has had a stranglehold on the Ivy League, winning the conference’s automatic bid for the last four seasons. The Crimson don’t look like the favorite for the upcoming season, but it’s worth noting they could welcome a top-10 recruiting class to Cambridge next season.
In the meantime, though, Harvard lost Wesley Saunders, Steve Mondou-Missi, and Jonah Travis from last year’s team. The Crimson will likely relinquish their hold on the league, thanks to the fact the Ivy is the only league where a team can’t get hot and win the conference tournament with three games in three days.
Yale appears to be in the pole position to take over as kings of the Ivy. The Bulldogs made it to a conference tiebreaker game against Harvard last season, and return their best player in Justin Sears. Sears shot 52 percent on twos and was one of the best offensive rebounders in the country last season. Yale also will get Brandon Sherrod back. Sherrod was fourth on the team in scoring two seasons ago before missing the season last year to sing with the Whiffenpoofs, the oldest college acapella group in the nation.
When looking for an Ivy League champion, don’t overlook Princeton. The Tigers return six of their best seven players, and it was actually Princeton which led the Ivy in offense last season. Princeton shot an astounding 57.5 percent on twos last season and got to the line more than any other team, so even though it ranked 6th in turnover percentage and 7th in offensive rebounding, Princeton was still able to score 1.09 points per possession.
Another team getting some buzz is Columbia. The Lions are led by player of the year favorite Maodo Lo, who took an even 30 percent of the team’s shots. Lo shot 55 percent on twos and 42 percent on threes last season as well. Last summer in the World University Games, Lo led Germany to the championship game and made the all-tournament team. He’s not great in the assist/turnover categories, and he doesn’t quite get to the line enough, but that’s nitpicking with a guy who shoots as much and as efficiently as he does. If the Ivy League had a tournament, I wouldn’t put it past him to drag Columbia to the NCAA tournament, but as it is I don’t think they have the firepower around him to get it done.
Yale will rightly receive consideration in the preseason predictions, but I think Princeton’s returning core will give the Tigers the consistency the Ivy League always requires.
Predicted order of finish
Justin Sears, Yale
Maodo Lo, Columbia
Kyle Castlin, Columbia
Tony Hicks, Pennsylvania
Hans Brase, Princeton