The Ivy League Basketball Tournaments are set to get underway on Saturday, but neither tourney has a clear, runaway favorite. Both the No. 2 co-champion women and the No. 4 men will face Harvard in the semifinal on Saturday.
Tyira Bunche, Associate Sports Editor:
It’s easy to try to believe in the fantasy story where Penn men’s basketball comes back from being at the bottom of the League, to winning it all at the end of the year. However, it's almost impossible to see that happening. The Quakers will face Harvard in the first round, a team they lost to twice this season.
Juniors AJ Brodeur and Devon Goodman are almost guaranteed to have great games, but who else will be able to step up and contribute offensively? In their last game against the Crimson, the duo combined for 39 points, but no one else scored in double digits.
As the No. 4 seed in 2017, Penn lost to Princeton in the first round, and that was with home court advantage. Without that advantage, it's hard to see Penn getting out of the first round. The Bulldogs will face Princeton in the semifinals, a team they beat by 22 just last weekend. Home court advantage is real, and that will drive Yale to a championship.
The women will have a tough matchup against Harvard in the first round, but the team has too much momentum going into this weekend. They’ve won their final four games of the regular season, one of those being against Harvard. They’ll make it to the championship game, but the only problem is that they’ll likely be facing Princeton. Princeton has won ten straight games, and I see nothing stopping them from making it 12 straight, and winning the championship.
Danny Chiarodit, Sports Editor:
As solid as the Penn women have been, they weren’t as dominant in the final stretch as they’ve been at other points in the season. Of course, they’re going to be tough to beat, but having to knock off both Harvard and Princeton is a difficult task in its own right. Penn’s semifinal game against the Crimson will likely be a tight one, as were their previous two meetings. I think Penn will pull it out to advance to the championship game against Princeton.
Once they get there, though, I don’t believe the Quakers will have enough left in the tank. Princeton should cruise by Cornell in the other semifinal and be well-rested for a rematch of last year’s title game. In the end, back-to-back Ivy Player of the Year Bella Alarie will be just a bit too much to handle for Penn. Yes, the Red and Blue did beat Princeton in their first meeting, but that was over two months ago, and the Tigers are currently on a 10-game win streak. I think they’ll extend that to 12 by the end of this weekend.
Just like the women’s semi, this Penn versus Harvard matchup will be a good one. Even though the Quakers are 0-2 against the Crimson this season, they are more than capable of pulling of this victory. Harvard did not look great last weekend, and the Quakers played very well. With that being said, I think Harvard will be able to regroup and end the Quakers’ hot streak. Harvard's Bryce Aiken will put solid numbers up, as usual, but I see Harvard’s depth — with guys like Kirkwood, Bassey, Lewis, and Juzang — being the difference.
Harvard will take on Yale in the final, after the Bulldogs trounce Princeton — a team in a downward spiral after losing Devin Cannady for the year — in the other semifinal. Harvard has beaten Yale twice already, and while it’s hard to beat a team three times, I think the Crimson will do just that on Sunday to become Ivy Tournament champs. Of course, Yale has home court advantage, which can’t be overlooked, but I still think this is Harvard’s year.
Theodoros Papazekos, Senior Sports Editor:
Penn women's basketball is the team to beat in the Ivy Tournament. The Quakers have a tougher path to the final than their co-champion Princeton, but if there's one thing Penn has shown, it is their ability to grit their way through tough games. This team has already exceeded expectations this season in some ways, but they're not done just yet. Penn's defense has been incredibly strong all year, and has proven that Alarie can be stopped. Expect Penn to battle through a solid Harvard team before edging Princeton in a Sunday night thriller.
The men meanwhile, snuck into the Tournament on the final weekend. Their biggest problem all season has been consistency, but that is a smaller issue when the season is only a series of elimination games. The Quakers have the momentum to beat a Harvard team that struggled last weekend. They're underdogs for sure, but don't count out an upset — Penn pulled one off in a big way last Friday. Yale should win this tournament, but I would not be shocked if Penn pulled off the upset.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.