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Now-junior guard Jordan Dingle faces off against Princeton defender Ethan Wright during the game at the Palestra on March 5. Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

Heading into the 2022-23 basketball season, there has been an electric sort of buzz surrounding the Penn men’s team, especially after the abbreviated Ivy League tournament run of last season. With the release of the Ivy League preseason media poll, enthusiasm for the team can only multiply.

Penn was picked to finish first in the Ivy League by members of the Ivy League media contingent, and achieved its first No. 1 ranking since 2006. This comes after a third-place finish last season, a year in which Penn went 9-5 in the regular season and fell to Yale 67-61 in the semifinals of the Ivy League tournament.

There is much reason for optimism heading into the season for Penn, especially with the returning elite talent. Leading scorer Jordan Dingle is back in Red and Blue, following a unanimous first team All-Ivy selection, and is one of the early contenders for Ivy League Player of the Year. Only one other member of last season’s first team is returning: Tosan Evbuomwan of Princeton, who won Ivy League Player of the Year in 2022.

Speaking of the Tigers, who won the conference regular season championship a year ago, they finished just behind Penn in the preseason poll. Penn tallied 111 voting points and six first-place votes, while Princeton received 110 points and six first-place votes. While the Tigers also return their leading man, their second- and third-leading scorers from 2021 are gone, while the Quakers retained all four of their top bucket-getters. That carry-over was enough to give Penn the edge, even by the slightest of margins.

Additionally, Yale, who beat Penn in the Ivy League semifinal and upset Princeton in the Ivy League final before losing to No. 3 seed Purdue in the first round of March Madness, comes into the season ranked third in the preseason poll, although it lost its two best players in guards Azar Swain and Jalen Gabbidon to graduation. 

Penn has its first preseason game this Saturday at the Palestra against Daemen at 5 p.m., and begins regular season action on Nov. 7 at Rick Pitino’s Iona. With so many lofty expectations for the team this season, pressure may prove Penn’s most daunting opponent. But if its top ranking signifies anything, it is that the Quakers are ready for whatever challenge comes their way.