The non-conference schedule is over. The hopes for a big regular-season upset have vanished. The dreams of anything better than a 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament are all but dashed. But that doesn't mean the Penn men's basketball team will sleepwalk through the rest of its schedule -- not with the Ivy League title on the line. "Obviously, we're disappointed with the way our non-conference schedule played out," Penn captain Geoff Owens said. "But from the beginning of the season, our goal has been to win the Ivy League, and it's still an achievable goal." The Quakers (7-12, 4-0 Ivy League) travel to Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend for a pair of Ancient Eight games -- a pair of Ancient Eight games that are anything but shoo-in victories. Owens knows how tough it is to win a game at the Crimson's Lavietes Pavilion. In the three times he's played there, the Quakers have lost an overtime game, won by a five-point margin, and barely escaped defeat when a Dan Clemente buzzer-beater was a little off the mark. "I've never had an easy game up at their place," Owens said. "This is a game we're not looking past." Harvard (11-7, 4-2) has dropped league games to Yale and Columbia, but has downed Dartmouth twice and beaten Ivy foes Brown and Cornell. A bit of an enigma? Perhaps. But the Crimson have more than their share of weapons. Clemente is a deadly shooter; he's averaged 18.3 points per game and has shot 81 percent from the foul line and 37 percent from three-point range. And Clemente hasn't even been Harvard's most effective shooter this season. Patrick Harvey has hit 44 percent of his three-point attempts and has posted a league-best 85.5 mark from the foul line. "They have guys that can make threes and make plays," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. And Harvard has been a pesky team on the defensive end. The Crimson have recorded 202 steals -- 37 more than their opponents. Guard Andrew Gellert has 59 of those steals. "Harvard does a nice job defensively," Dunphy said. "They steal a lot, so we'll have to be extra careful with our passes." Dartmouth, meanwhile, doesn't seem to pose as much of a threat to Penn. After all, the Big Green are just 1-5 in the league and 6-13 overall. But the travel is never beneficial. "A Saturday night Ivy League game on the road is always tough," Owens said. And Dartmouth had a three-point halftime lead against Penn at John W. Berry Sports Center last year. "Dartmouth -- they can go off," Dunphy said. "[Guard Greg] Buth can go off. [Forward Mark] Kissling can go off. [Center Ian] McGinnis is a nice rebounder. And I like Flinder Boyd, their point guard." Buth is averaging 17.8 points per game. Kissling is shooting 38 percent from three-point range. McGinnis has averaged 13.8 points and 10.8 rebounds in league play. And Boyd is averaging more than five assists a game. But Buth and Clemente and company aren't what worries Penn senior guard Lamar Plummer. "To be honest, I don't see what other teams can do to hurt us," Plummer said. "I see us hurting ourselves. And that's what's been hurting us from day one." The Quakers have not done as well as they hoped this season. Penn's RPI is currently 217 out of 319. The Quakers have played seven teams in the RPI's top 100, but lost each game. And Penn hasn't won a game against a team currently ranked higher than 250th. In fact, the Quakers' biggest victory, according to current RPI standings, was against No. 256 Yale last Friday. This does not bode well for the Quakers when tournament seedings are announced next month. But, then again, the Quakers aren't quite as concerned with that at the moment. "Our goal is the same as the beginning of the season -- to win the Ivy League," Penn guard David Klatsky said. "If we do win it and get a 15 or 16 seed, so be it."Comments powered by Disqus
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