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Now-junior forward Jordan Obi looks to dribble through two Villanova players during last season's game at the Palestra on Nov. 22, 2021. Credit: Julia Van Lare

Following a year where Penn women's basketball drifted below expectations, the Quakers are returning an exciting lineup in hopes of reaching their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2017. Here's a look at Penn's chances, as well as the rest of the Ivy League heading into the 2022-23 season.

1. Princeton (2021-22: 25-5, 14-0 Ivy)

Being the only team among the Ancient Eight to earn itself a ranking in the Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association Preseason Poll, Princeton holds the league-favorite spot for the 2022-23 season.

The Tigers are returning from a stellar 2021-22 season: going undefeated in Ivy League play, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and toppling No. 6 Kentucky as the 11th seed before falling just short to No. 3 Indiana in the second round.

Ivy League Coach of the Year Carla Berube leads a lineup stacked with All-Ivy honors and accolades from last season — including senior Julia Cunningham, who earned first team All-Ivy, and junior Kaitlyn Chen, who won Ivy League Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

2. Columbia (2021-22: 25-7, 12-2)

Columbia is coming off its winningest season in program history, and will prove a tough competitor for the No. 1 spot in the Ancient Eight.

Last season, the Tigers proved to be the stronger competitor as both of the Lions' conference losses were to crown-winning Princeton. This season, Columbia will look to employ its more experienced roster to its favor. 

The pack will be led by seven seniors and four juniors, headed by decorated junior Abbey Hsu. The two-time All-Ivy League selection shattered the single-season conference record for three-pointers last season and reigns as the Lions' leading scorer. The maturity and experience of a majority-upperclassmen roster may give Columbia the much-needed advantage.

3. Penn (2021-22: 12-14, 7-7)

Just missing a spot in the Ivy League Tournament last spring, Penn can utilize last season’s fifth-place conference finish as motivation in the fight for a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Senior captain Kayla Padilla will lead the Red and Blue after holding the leading-scorer title in the Ivy League last season with an 18.6 points per game average. Padilla was critical to the Quakers' success last season and has set numerous program records in just her two seasons of play.

More central figures on the 2021-22 roster are set to return. Junior Jordan Obi, senior Mandy McGurk, and senior Sydnei Caldwell, contribute to a reliable scoring and defensive depth for the Quakers.

4. Yale (2021-22: 16-11, 9-5)

The Bulldogs, in their first season with former WNBA player Dalila Eshe as head coach, will have to take on the 2022-23 season without one of its star players — Camilla Emsbo.

Emsbo's season-ending injury is a major blow to Yale’s roster. The senior forward abruptly ends her Yale career after coming off arguably her best season yet, leading the Ancient Eight in blocks per game, double-doubles, and field goal percentage. Emsbo also joined the 1,000-point club and earned a unanimous first team All-Ivy selection.

With four other additions to the coaching staff, three new players on the roster, and the lone senior down for the count, the program has its fair share of kinks it must iron out for a successful conference run.

5. Harvard (2021-22: 13-14, 7-7)

Presenting an identical conference record to Penn last season, Harvard serves strong contest for the fourth and final spot in the Ivy tournament for the 2022-23 season.

Names to watch on the Crimson’s lineup include co-captains Mckenzie Forbes and Maggie McCarthy. Forbes recorded a scoring average of 14.1 points per game and was awarded to the All-Ivy second team last season. McCarthy started in all 27 games last season and picked up the title of highest accuracy in the league, notching a field-goal percentage of 0.452 and a three-point percentage of 0.352. 

Without victories against top-ranked conference teams, this season could prove stagnation for Harvard. 

6. Cornell (2021-22: 9-16, 4-10)

The Big Red started 2021-22 conference play with a promising 45-36 victory over Dartmouth, but the three-game losing streak that followed spiraled them into a devastating finish.

Only three of the program’s top five scorers from last season will return, with the most anticipated being senior Olivia Snyder, who notched 130 points despite missing the final 11 games with an injury. 

Coach Dayna Smith will lead the Big Red program for a comfortable 19th straight season. Despite earning the title for the winningest coach in Cornell history last season, there is pressure to produce a more victorious conference outcome in 2022-23.

7. Dartmouth (2021-22: 3-23, 2-12)

Recording only one more victory than Brown to keep the program out of last place in the Ivy standings last season is the Big Green, which is looking for a big boost. And the addition of five new players may be just what they need.

Of the new faces is transfer Leiya Stuart who joins Dartmouth after two years at Vermont. The junior guard, along with two freshmen towering over six feet, will contribute to strengthening the team’s defensive front. In the 2021-22 season, Dartmouth was outscored by an average of 18 points per game and underperformed its opponents in nearly every defensive category. 

8. Brown (2021-22: 6-20, 1-13)

During its first season of play under head coach Monique LeBlanc, Brown only turned up a singular conference victory in the 2021-22 season, tabbing it last in the Ancient Eight rankings.

Near the end of its slate last season, the program fell off of the close-loss success it experienced early in conference play; beginning to return blowout losses instead. Aims to improve will take more than the return of its top six leading scorers from last season.