The Quakers are halfway through their 2022 Ivy League campaign, and the conference has been getting very interesting. With several cancellations due to COVID-19 protocols throughout the league, Penn and Brown are the only teams that have cycled through all opponents once, providing a clearer measure of how the Quakers fare against others in the conference.
The current Ivy League standings are as follows:
- Princeton (5-1)
- Yale (4-1)
- Penn (5-2)
- Cornell (3-3)
- Harvard (2-3)
- Dartmouth (2-4)
- Brown (2-5)
- Columbia (1-5)
If current trends continue, there will be three distinctly strong contenders for first in the Ivy League: Princeton, Yale, and Penn. Cornell and Harvard could also have a chance if the league-leaders lose momentum.
And let’s be clear: There are two prizes at stake every basketball season.
The Ivy League Champion is the team with the best record after regular season play within the league. The last time Penn won the regular season Ivy title was when it shared the honor with Harvard in 2018, when the teams tied Ivy records in the regular season.
That same year, Penn also received the Ivy automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which is awarded to the winner of a four-team playoff. The title game result was a 68-65 win over Harvard at the Palestra, putting Penn into March Madness, where the Red and Blue were defeated by Kansas in the first round.
This year’s 2022 Ivy Tournament will be hosted by Harvard, where the Quakers will fight to make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament once again. To get there, Penn needs a top-four finish in the league, which looks possible halfway through the Ivy season.
Current statistics show Penn having an 87.4% chance of making the playoffs (finishing in the top four), a 14.2% chance of finishing as the top seed, a 24.7% chance at second seed, and a 29.6% shot at third. The Red and Blue have a 16.0% chance of receiving the Ivy League’s NCAA bid heading into the second half of Ivy play.
The Quakers have played all other teams in the Ivy League, only picking up losses against league-leader Princeton and the Columbia Lions. The Red and Blue recently held off Harvard for their fifth Ivy win, this being the first time Penn defeated the Crimson in Cambridge since 2012.
Penn kicked its season off against several ranked NCAA opponents, including No. 20 Florida State, No. 13 Arkansas, and No. 6 Villanova. Coach Steve Donahue mentioned several times that these tough early matchups had the potential to strengthen the team’s skills heading into Ivy play — and that’s precisely what happened.
Additionally, Penn men's basketball has been known for its comebacks after going down in games, a pattern that demonstrates the depth and composure of the squad. After going down 12-2 and 18-5 against Harvard, with junior forward Michael Moshkovitz leaving the game to early foul trouble, Penn’s perseverance remained intact. Composure was especially notable in the Yale matchup, as Penn was able to break Yale’s press to hold on at the end, also going 17-20 on free throws.
The matchup with Princeton, however, proved that Penn could not let its guard down at any point in the game if it wasn’t willing to pay for it. Penn knows how to play from behind against weaker teams, like Dartmouth, but with top teams in the Ivy League, like Princeton, it’s difficult to make up for turnovers and inconsistencies.
With Yale’s 80-74 defeat of Princeton on Saturday night, the Bulldogs moved above Princeton as the favorites to go into the Ivy Tournament as the top seed at 51.7%, compared to the Tigers’ 29.8%. However, both remain neck and neck to receive the NCAA bid.
Each team now has one loss in Ivy play — Yale’s only loss being against the Quakers in a 76-68 game at the Palestra. Princeton was on a 10-game winning streak heading into its loss against Yale, with Penn being one of the Tigers’ victims. The fact that each of the current top-three teams picked up a win against another top team reveals the potential for a flipped script throughout the second matchups of the season.
If sophomore guard Jordan Dingle continues to put up big numbers like his 31 points against both Yale and Harvard, the Quakers have a good shot at winning the Ivy League and surprising Princeton and Yale in the Ivy tournament.
The Red and Blue will face all of the other Ancient Eight teams once more over the next month. If Penn can pull off another win against Yale and hand Princeton another loss, Penn has a real shot at winning the Ivy League Championship. Beyond that goal, the NCAA bid is within the Quakers’ reach.
Penn has an opportunity to avenge its loss against the Columbia Lions, who sit at the bottom of the league, this coming Friday at 7:00 p.m. in New York City.