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Penn's Koko Archibong soars over Brady Merchant (left) and Sam Winter (right) last Friday. The Quakers take on Brown and Yale this weekend. [Will Burhop/DP File Photo]

This weekend, the Ivy League's men's basketball powerhouses square off in a four-way battle for dominance of the league. The league champion is mathematically guaranteed to come from the quartet of Penn, Brown, Princeton and Yale. This year's Ancient Eight competition is split conspicuously down the center between four "haves" and four "have-nots." With less than two weeks remaining in league play, the hapless group of Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Columbia have failed to claim a single victory against the four in a dogfight for first. The 24-0 record of the top against the bottom has left the top teams in a dogfight for first, and so far Penn is prevailing. New Haven and Providence are the next stops on the Quakers' Ivy title defense tour. Two weeks ago undefeated Penn (17-5, 9-0 Ivy) swept Yale and Brown at the Palestra. The Red and Blue hold a slim half-game lead over Brown (9-1 Ivy) after a seven point come-from-behind victory at home. Brown would be leading the Ivy League now if not for three clutch three-pointers down the stretch by guards David Klatsky and Jeff Schiffner. Penn scored the final 12 points in its first showdown with Brown to claim a 73-66 victory. "The difference between winning and losing is very fragile," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. The Quakers have had some more experience with that line than Brown as of late. Over the past two seasons Penn has played in a great number of games that would be decisive for the Ivy League title. Over the same two-year span Brown has only played in games with title implications for rival teams. "Last year the last 10 games were basically playoff games," senior point guard Andrew Toole said. "And we had the playoff game at Yale. That might give us an edge, but they'll be ready." This season's Brown team looks much tougher than those in recent memory. The Bears have easily been the flashiest team in the league with a conference-best 76.5 points per game in conference play. Brown also boasts the league's top scoring threat, senior shooting guard Earl Hunt. Hunt's 19.0 points per game make him a safe bet to win his third scoring title in as many years. Penn forward Ugonna Onyekwe trails Hunt by nearly four points per game. "He's a really good player as a team we just have to try as a team to limit his shots," Schiffner said. "He's going to get his shots and his points, you've just got to make sure he doesn't get rolling and dominate the game." Behind the gaudy scoring average, however, is a different number that predicts an advantage for Penn in the rematch. The Quakers' own the league's top defense, allowing an average of eleven fewer points than Brown and giving Penn the top scoring margin in the league. The Bears have needed every bit of their offense on the way to compile their record. Only Harvard has allowed more points per game. Yale, the surprise team in last season's three-way title tie, has an outside chance at reentering the race. However, at 6-4 Yale is more likely to play the part of spoiler than champion this year. Yale led Penn at the half in their first matchup, but the Quakers dominated in the second half on the way to a 68-57 win. Guards Edwin Draughan and Chris Leanza both scored in double figures for the Elis' balanced attack. Yale gets more minutes from its bench than perhaps any team in the Ancient Eight. Against Penn, nine Elis players logged twelve or more minutes on the court. If Penn can sweep its opponents this weekend, they will likely repeat as the champ. "To be good enough to represent our league in the tournament we need to be good enough to go on the road," Dunphy said. "And beat two very good teams."

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