February 7 is far and away the most important day of the Penn men’s basketball season.
For the first time since 2012, Penn's students will be on campus to witness one of the most historic rivalries in college basketball when the Quakers take on the Princeton Tigers at home. In the recent past, the Penn-Princeton battles have all taken place over Penn's winter or spring breaks.
The first meeting earlier in the year at Princeton did not go smoothly for the Red and Blue, as a huge early deficit proved too much to overcome, ultimately leading to a 61-52 loss. Penn, winless in Ivy play, needs to rebound in a big way and get its season back on track in order to realistically have a shot an an Ivy League playoff berth.
Not only is the game significant for its impact on the teams’ postseason fortunes, but next Tuesday’s game will also serve as a celebration of the Palestra’s 90th anniversary.
To commemorate the momentous occasion, Penn Athletics will be sponsoring a variety of events and giveaways such as a pre-game Fan-Fest in Rockwell Gymnasium, free cakes given to the first 500 attendees, free Palestra posters to the first 1000, and free replica shooting shirts to the first 300. Additionally, prices for student tickets and popcorn will be marked down to replicate the prices from 1927, the Palestra’s first year.
Hopefully, as a result of all the fanfare, the storied arena — home to more college basketball games than any other gym in the nation — will be rocking as Penn and Princeton battle for the 236th time in a series Penn leads 124-111.
The rivalry is as influential as it is old, with the two participants both considered among the most historically prominent in the nation. According to a 2012 ESPN article ranking the fifty greatest college basketball programs of all time, Penn and Princeton were tied at the 22nd spot, placing both programs firmly among college basketball’s blue bloods.
Fortunately for current Penn students, these all-time programs will be on display in a manner they haven’t been in five years: at the Palestra, during the school year.