Around Penn Athletics, there will be no shortage of high-octane matchups across the board this weekend. All in all, seven Penn teams will be in regular season action over the next three days, with the majority of them getting deep into the crucial stretch of conference play. With such an action-packed weekend ahead, our sports editors head to the roundtable to debate: which Penn team is under the most pressure to perform this weekend?
Jonathan Pollack, Sports Editor:
It’s now or never for Penn men’s basketball in conference play, and the pressure could not be higher.
The Red and Blue have gotten off to a rocky start in conference play, losing their first three Ivy tilts. Two of them were against Princeton and Yale, two of the presumptive top three teams in the league, so while it would have been nice to steal one of those games, the losses were expected. However, the Quakers’ last Ivy loss, an 82-70 clunker against Brown, was one that really hurt. Penn was expected to win that game, and the loss put them in the 0-3 spot that they currently sit in.
It’s not like the Quakers have nothing going for them though. They are coming off a Big 5 win against La Salle in which they played one of their best games in the past few weeks. But more importantly, AJ Brodeur finally regained his early season form, one that was noticeably missing from Penn’s three Ancient Eight matchups. The Quakers need Brodeur to play well if they want a shot at climbing back into postseason contention.
Time is running out on Penn’s Ivy tournament hopes, and this weekend they must win at least one game, if not both, if they want to have a shot. Without at least one victory this weekend, the Quakers will see their title dreams disappear, and if that’s not the definition of pressure, I don’t know what is.
Tommy Rothman, Sports Editor:
Penn women’s basketball faces the most pressure to perform this weekend. The Quakers are the defending Ivy League champions and just wrapped up non-conference play, meaning it’s all Ivy action from here on out. And while the Ancient Eight games have gone smoothly in recent years for Penn, the Red and Blue had some issues with their non-conference foes this season, especially in the Big 5.
A massacre of Division III Stevens Tech let Penn end that part of its season on a high note, but an 0-4 performance against their fellow members of the Philly quintet, including losses to Villanova and Temple the past two weeks, has the Quakers in need of a legitimate win against a legitimate opponent.
And a legitimate opponent is certainly on the docket this weekend, as Harvard will come to the Palestra having won 16 straight games. The Crimson appear to be the main threat to Penn’s Ivy title, although Princeton, of course, will always be in the midst of the championship race.
While Penn has to be the favorite in the Ivy League despite Harvard’s streak, and it has been seven seasons since a team other than the Tigers or Quakers won the title, Harvard (and Dartmouth the next night) will be looking to throw a twist in the Ivy League narrative.
Brevin Fleischer, Associate Sports Editor:
While I’ll concede that both basketball teams are heading into a crucial weekend, these two squads have lost in the past and can most likely lose again without totally jeopardizing everything they’ve built. However, there remains one team that hasn’t dealt with many losses at all this year and can ill-afford to start now. Women’s squash storms into the weekend sporting a 7-1 record and the number two ranking in the entire country. On Saturday, they take on No. 10 Brown, a team that has won five matches in a row. The Quakers, riding a winning streak of equal length, have more on the line than their opponents. A loss this weekend would open the door for any of the three teams ranked immediately below them in the national polls, as Trinity, Princeton and Yale have each only lost once in their own right. When one reaches the mountaintop, as women’s squash has, any misstep could be devastating.
Adding to the intrigue of the weekend is the remarkable fact that sophomore Reeham Salah has still yet to drop a game this season. That’s right. Not only has she won each of her eight matches on the year, but she has yet to lose a single game within those matches. That type of dominance is unparalleled. But again, with that type of success comes the inordinate and unrelenting pressure to sustain her level, a pressure Salah and the rest of women’s squash must face each time they play.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.