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mbb-vs-harvard-aj-brodeur

A two-time unanimous first team All-Ivy player, senior forward AJ Brodeur has feasted on Ivy League competition in the past. 

Credit: Son Nguyen

With Penn men's basketball getting set to start its quest for an Ivy League title, here is a look at the rest of the Ancient Eight competition. After a 2018-19 season in which 13 of the 14 All-Ivy players returned to their respective schools, this year should see a lot of new faces stepping into big roles. Here is a guide to each team's outlook for the 2019-20 season, ordered by the results of the preseason poll.

Harvard 2018-19 Record: (19-12, 10-4 Ivy)

Biggest loss: None

Player to watch: Bryce Aiken

After back-to-back regular season Ivy League championships, Harvard has failed to seal the deal and win the Ivy League Tournament in each of the past two seasons – losing in the championship game in each. On paper, most experts view the Crimson as the clear-cut favorites to repeat as regular season champions for the third year in a row, as they received 15 of the 17 possible first-place votes in the preseason poll.

Harvard is returning its entire starting lineup from last season, including senior point guard Bryce Aiken, who averaged 22.2 points per game last year. Aiken, the 2016-17 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, was a unanimous first team All-Ivy selection last season, despite missing much of the team's nonconference schedule due to injury.

Additionally, Harvard will welcome back Seth Towns, the 2017-18 Ivy League Player of the Year. Towns missed last season due to injury, but in his 2017-18 award-winning campaign, he averaged 16 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest. The team also returns a total of four seniors who were regular starters last season. The Crimson are deep, have several veterans, and are looking for revenge after the past two seasons. 

Credit: Nathan Adler

Yale: (22-8, 10-4, Ivy League Champions)

Biggest loss: Miye Oni

Player to watch: Jordan Bruner

The Bulldogs start the season looking to repeat as Ivy League champions and make another trip to the NCAA Tournament. However, they are losing much of their scoring power from last season with four key departed players: Miye Oni, Alex Copeland, Blake Reynolds, and Trey Phills, who averaged 17.1, 14.1, 11.1, and 7.0 points per game, respectively. 

Yale averaged a total of 80.9 points per game last season, and with the loss of these four players, the team will be missing a total of 49.3 points per game from them alone. Oni, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, will be the most difficult to replace due to his athleticism and ability to score at will. Oni now plays for the Utah Jazz in the NBA.

In the frontcourt, Yale will likely rely heavily on senior Jordan Bruner and junior Paul Atkinson. In order for the Bulldogs to remain in the discussion at the top of the Ivy League, Bruner will need to take a step forward after averaging 10.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game last season. With a lot of unproven talent on the Yale roster, the team will look to re-establish its identity as a force in the Ivy League early in the season. 

Princeton: (16-12, 8-6)

Biggest loss: Myles Stephens

Player to watch: Richmond Aririguzoh

After coming in third in the Ivy League last season, Princeton is looking to return to form from the 2016-17 campaign, when it won the Ivy League Tournament after a perfect 14-0 regular season in the Ancient Eight. The Tigers will have to do so without their senior leader from last season, Myles Stephens. Stephens led the team in minutes last year with over 900 and averaged 13.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest. He was the Tigers' lone first team All-Ivy selection in 2018-19. 

Princeton's nonconference schedule will test the team early, with contests against Indiana and Arizona State in its first five games. The group will look to rely heavily on the development and play of senior center Richmond Aririguzoh. Aririguzoh was selected to the second team All-Ivy list last season and will be a key to Princeton’s success in 2019-20. 

Brown: (20-12, 7-7)

Biggest loss: Obi Okolie

Player to watch: Tamenang Choh

Brown is projected to miss the Ivy League Tournament, according to the conference preseason poll published last week. Brown is built around its young core, which is highlighted by junior forward Tamenang Choh, who earned a second team All-Ivy selection last season. Choh, who started all 32 games last season as a sophomore, led the conference in rebounding with 8.6 boards per game. He also ranked 12th in the League in points per game, fourth in assists per game, sixth in steals per game, 10th in blocked shots per game, and 10th in free throw percentage. 

The Bears are returning three of their starters from last season and are coming off of a campaign in which coach Mike Martin won the Ivy League Coach of the Year award. Brown is coming off of its first ever 20-win season and has the opportunity to build off of that momentum this year.

Columbia: (10-18, 5-9)

Biggest loss: Quinton Adlesh

Player to watch: Mike Smith

Columbia finished last season in seventh place in the Ivy League standings but was just two games out of a potential Ivy League Tournament berth. The team is looking to close the gap on the competition this year. There's some good news and bad news for the Lions as they enter the 2019 season. The good news is that they're getting back senior guard Mike Smith, who paced the team with 17.6 points per game as a sophomore before suffering a season-ending injury at the beginning of last year. 

The bad news is that junior guard Gabe Stefanini — who averaged 13.8 points and 5.3 points per game last year — is out indefinitely with a left foot injury. Stefanini, who was a second team All-Ivy honoree last season, had surgery on the foot in early October. 

There has not been an official timetable announced for his return to play, but similar injuries place the timeline at around three to five months. If this is accurate, it means that he could return in time for Columbia's Ivy League opener on Jan. 18 against Cornell. 

Columbia will also lose senior forward Patrick Tapé. Tapé, who contributed 35 blocks and added in 11.3 points on the offensive end, is sitting out the season to pursue a transfer opportunity next season.

The group is losing senior guard Quinton Adlesh, who was third on the team in scoring last season despite only starting in 12 of his 28 appearances. If the Lions can survive their time without Stefanini, they could be a factor in the Ivy League. 

Cornell: (15-16, 7-7)

Biggest loss: Matt Morgan

Player to watch: Jimmy Boeheim

Cornell just missed the Ivy League Tournament last season after losing a three-way tie with Penn and Brown at 7-7 in the conference to finish in sixth place. The biggest loss for Cornell this season will be graduated senior guard Matt Morgan. Morgan finished as the second-leading scorer in Ivy League history with 2,309 points. He was a unanimous first team All-Ivy selection for the second straight season in 2018-19. 

Cornell's biggest hurdle this season will be replacing Morgan, who has led the Big Red in scoring in each of the past four seasons. Much of the weight of his absence will be put on the shoulders of junior forward Jimmy Boeheim. Boeheim was second on the team in scoring last season, averaging 11.8 points per contest. He was the only player on the team besides Morgan to average double digits in points. 

Dartmouth: (11-19, 2-12)

Biggest loss: Brendan Barry

Player to watch: Chris Knight

After a disappointing 2018-19 season in which Dartmouth finished with just two wins in conference play, the Big Green will look to rebound in 2019. Much of the team's success will depend on the play of junior forward Chris Knight, who received second team All-Ivy honors last season. Knight led the team in scoring last season with 15.4 points per game but struggled at the free throw line, shooting just 61.6% from the charity stripe. 

Dartmouth will be without senior guard Brendan Barry this season, who was ruled out for the season due to injury in September. Last year, Barry averaged 13.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, and he was one of the best three-point shooters in the conference. Barry led the Ivy League in the assist-to-turnover ratio in each of the past two seasons. 

He also led the Ivy League last season in minutes played and finished second in minutes played in 2017-18. Dartmouth's play will be dictated by how the group responds to the loss of a leader in the locker room and a key contributor to its offense over the past three seasons.

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