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The historic Philadelphia basketball association announced the restructuring of Big 5 play at the Wells Fargo Center on April 11. Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

As fall teams wrap up competition, the Penn sports world shifts to winter, when a new host of teams and athletes get the chance to vie for Ivy League and national glory. Let’s take a look at five of the biggest matchups coming up for the Quakers this winter, and weigh how their results could shape the season ahead.

5. Swimming and Diving vs. Cornell — Princeton, N.J., Nov. 18 2023

Last season, Penn swimming and diving teams finished in the bottom half of the Ivy League, with the men’s team slotting in fifth and the women’s team at seventh. As they look to climb the ladder this winter, the Big Red will serve as an important rung to clear when the teams face off at Sheerr Pool on Nov. 18. The men’s team tied with Cornell last season, while the women’s team suffered a 190-108 loss. Both Big Red squads also finished near the bottom of the Ancient Eight, providing Penn a chance to differentiate themselves from last season’s identity. The meet will also provide a chance for Penn’s heavy hitters– junior breat/individual medly specialist Matt Fallon and senior freestyle swimmer Anna Kalandadze– to record quality times and position themselves well for postseason competition.

4. Women’s Basketball at Princeton — Princeton, N.J., March 9, 2024

In the course of the historic Penn-Princeton basketball rivalry, 2023 will go down as a rounding sweep for the Tigers. The schools faced off a total of six times across men’s and women’s competition, with Princeton winning all six, including both semifinal games in the Ivy League tournament that ended Penn’s seasons. This year, the Quakers will be out for revenge. The women’s team plays the Tigers at home on Feb. 10 and on the road on March 9, with the latter being the final game of the regular season. By then, the Red and Blue will have fully adjusted to life without program legend Kayla Padilla, and be more prepared than ever to settle the score with their New Jersey rivals.

3. Men’s Squash vs. Harvard — Penn Squash Center, Jan. 28, 2024

Does it get any better than a matchup between the two best teams in the nation? In a game that could serve as a national championship preview, the Quakers host Harvard at the Penn Squash Center on Jan. 28. Last season, a loss to the Crimson was the first in a string of disappointing defeats for Penn, who narrowly missed out on both Ivy and national titles — even a podium finish in the latter. But with the Quakers and the Crimson occupying the top two spots, respectively, in the College Squash Association preseason poll this year, they will be primed for another titanic clash.

2. Wrestling vs. Iowa — The Palestra, Dec. 1, 2023

Facing off against one of the top teams in the nation is an opportunity every college athlete relishes, and it’s one the Quaker wrestling team will be afforded when it hosts Iowa at the Palestra early next month. Last season, the Hawkeyes finished second in the nation and tallied six All-Americans, and this season they were picked to repeat that ranking in the National Wrestlings Coaches Association preseason poll. The Red and Blue, who were ranked 22nd in the same poll, will face an early test in the regular season-opening matchup, with the Hawkeyes serving as by far their toughest opponent of the season. For better or worse, Penn’s identity will be clear from the outset.

1. Men’s Basketball at the Big 5 Classic — Wells Fargo Center, Dec. 2, 2023

The inaugural Big 5 Classic will not only break new ground for one of college basketball’s oldest series, but provide a litmus test for the new-look Penn men’s basketball team. The Quakers will take on Villanova and St. Joe’s during the regular season, then match up with another member of the City 6 in a triple-header at Wells Fargo Center on Dec. 2. Last season, Penn finished 1-3 in Big 5 play before regrouping for a strong Ivy League campaign. Will this season be more of the same, or will the Red and Blue catch fire early and bring home the first-ever Big 5 Classic title? Only time will tell.