Silcox | Breaking even on fall predictions




Statistics are always relative in sports. Batting .500 in baseball is superb, while a .500 record in Ivy League football won’t cut it.

Way back in September, I wrote a column with a bad pun in the headline (surprise!) to “Penn” some predictions for the year in sports. The year is nearly up and since I’ve spent the last eight months critiquing Penn Athletics, it’s time to take a look at my year-end stats. Here are the predictions I made, and the real life results:

1. Football hits 800 program wins.

This one was my gimme. Of course Penn football would get one win this season. In fact they got nine. But in a season of dominance, the 800th win may have been Penn’s toughest. The 19-14 victory over Lafayette was a slop-fest as coach Al Bagnoli was still experimenting with his offense. Sophomore quarterback Billy Ragone led a second-half comeback and the QB would lead the Quakers on to fulfill my next prediction…

2. Football will repeat as Ivy champs.

Unlike the previous season of squeezing by Ivy opponents, the 2010 Quakers were absolutely dominant in the Ancient Eight. Every time a tough game came up on the schedule, this team surprised me by crushing the competition.

My favorite game this season was traveling to Princeton. Aside from the unbelievable press-box food spread (Penn administrators take note), the Quakers made the game look like a varsity-JV scrimmage. The funny part was that by the end of the game, it was Penn’s JV still beating up on the Tigers.

3. The women’s lacrosse team’s undefeated Ivy streak will come to an end.

This was a bittersweet pick to come true, as Penn’s 34-game Ivy winning streak ended last week when Princeton upset the Quakers at home on senior night.

The Red and Blue were just two wins shy of tying Harvard’s all-time mark. But Penn bounced back from the loss to beat Brown and earn the No.1 seed in the Ivy tournament — which the Quakers will host in early May. Here’s another prediction: The Quakers will win it all again and head back to the NCAA tourney for a fifth-straight season.

Finally, I’ve got to give credit here to my colleague Ari Seifter, who went on record saying that if one team were to end the streak, it would be Princeton.

4. Basketball will finish 3rd.

If it weren’t for the meddling Big Red, I would have gotten away with this one. The Quakers moved up from last year, as predicted, but at 7-7, Penn was one game back of Yale for third. A season sweep of Penn by fifth-place Cornell was the difference maker.

This was a season of early highs and late lows as Penn started off 3-0 in the Ivy League, but crippled any hopes of contention with a series of heartbreaking overtime losses. Penn should have no problem taking the three-spot — or better — next season.

4b. Average Palestra attendance for Ivy men’s basketball games: 3,950

To be honest, I made this prediction in the fall back when Daily Pennsylvanian Sports wrote a lot about basketball attendance numbers. At some point, we stopped beating a dead horse and moved on. As Zack Rosen wisely said after demolishing Dartmouth in January, “We can’t go in someone’s dorm room and drag them — well, we could, but we have to warm up.”

But now that I’m looking at the numbers, Penn fans exceeded my expectations. The actual Ivy-game attendance rose to 4,510 average — not too shabby. The highlight of the year on this front was the corner-packing Harvard game, which went into double overtime as Penn’s fans willed the Quakers to keep fighting. I thought that the loss that night would discourage students from coming back, but the numbers show otherwise.

5. Watch out for women’s golf. It may have taken them 10 years to get their first championship, but the second is sure to come a little quicker.

Okay, so this one wasn’t exactly a prediction — I never exactly said they would win it again this year… But, if you had asked me on Saturday whether trophy number two was on its way, I would have said yes. Tied for first going into the final round, the women had a tough outing Sunday and fell to fourth. This team is young — which might account for their troubles in crunch time, but it also bodes well for next year.

So I finished .500, 3-3 in the Ivy League, just behind Yale.

CALDER SILCOX is a junior science, technology and society major from Washington, D.C., and is Senior Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. His e-mail address is silcox@theDP.com. This article was updated from its original version to correct that W. Lax beat Brown, not Dartmouth, last weekend to win the Ivy title.

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