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After his Yale men's basketball team completed a weekend sweep of Penn and Princeton to take the Ivy League lead earlier this month, James Jones was riding on air.

"It's good to be the king," the Elis' coach said after Yale upset Princeton, 60-50, on Feb. 9. "It's been a long time coming."

As Jones prepares for his team's weekend trip to Philadelphia and Princeton, N.J., he is choosing his words a little bit more selectively.

"I think right now all of us [Yale, Penn and Princeton] are riding winning streaks right now," Jones said yesterday. "All of the teams are pretty confident. We have the opportunity to win if we play hard and we play well."

With a 9-1 Ivy League record, the Elis can clinch at least a tie for the Ancient Eight crown if they can again defeat both of the traditional league powers on their own home floors tomorrow and Saturday night.

It will be a tough task for the Elis, as they have not won at Princeton's Jadwin Gym since the 1992-1993 season, while Penn has not lost to Yale at the Palestra since 1996-1997.

Yale has not won a league title since 1962, while Penn and Princeton have split the last 13 championships since Cornell's run through the Ivies in 1988. The Elis themselves were 4-22 just three seasons ago.

So, very few fans south of Bridgeport are giving Yale much of a chance to escape the Delaware Valley with two victories and its first title in 40 years.

"We're excited for the opportunity," Jones, who has compiled a record of 34-44 since he took over the reigns of the Elis in 1999, said.

With Yale currently at 17-7 and Penn holding an equally impressive 19-6 record heading into the weekend, there is an extreme outside chance that both teams could receive bids to the NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA has never invited more than one Ivy League team to the Big Dance, but if there ever was a year for it, this is the year.

"I think it would be great," Jones said. "I know it's going to be very difficult, but the Ivy League has more wins outside the league than we've ever had."

Yale has defeated Penn State and Clemson already this season, while the Quakers have topped all four Big 5 schools, as well as upsetting Iowa State and Georgia Tech in the Las Vegas Invitational.

It is those quality wins, as well as the previous sweep of Penn and Princeton, that gives Jones confidence as he brings the Elis south for the weekend.

Jones just isn't exuding quite as much confidence from his mouth this time, which is probably smart the way that the Quakers have played since they lost to Jones' squad.

Penn has won its last four games by 10, 24, 27 and 38 points heading into this weekend, which should make Yale's visit to the Palestra very interesting indeed -- whether or not Jones says something interesting before the Elis arrive.

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