Roundtable: Effects of Harvard's ranking
This weekend, the AP came out with its first top 25 poll for the 2014-15 men's basketball season. For the first time since 1975, an Ivy League team made the preseason top 25, but it wasn't Penn this time: It was Harvard, led by high-profile coach Tommy Amaker. The Crimson were tied for 25th and will have a lot to live up to being a ranked Ivy squad. Our editors debate what this means for Penn and the Ivy League:
Senior Sports Editor Steven Tydings: Hello #TwoBidIvy? Not quite, but an editor can dream. This is a fantastic development for the Ivy League. It displays a level of respect to the Ancient Eight that hasn't been handed to any of its teams for a while. The Crimson will now need to carry the Ivy torch in nonconference play and show that this ranking was no fluke.
But is this a good thing for Penn? That's a little bit more murky. The Quakers are projected to finish near the bottom of the Ancient Eight in the way too early preseason Ivy League poll. And it would seem to me that Harvard's ranking both helps and hurts Penn. It helps in displaying the level of talent in the Ivies is much higher than it was seven or eight years ago. But it hurts because with a higher profile for the league comes higher expectations for everyone. Can Penn live up to it? It remains to be seen.
Sports Editor Colin Henderson: Overall, I’ve got to agree with you, Steven. It can’t be denied that it is great for the Ivy League as a whole to feature a talented team getting recognized on a national level. However, I think the Quakers are finding themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Coming off of last season — which was, by almost all accounts, close to disastrous — a year with low expectations spent outside of the spotlight is exactly what the doctor would prescribe for Penn basketball. In fact, a relatively uneventful year that lands them in the middle of the Ancient Eight could be considered a success for the Quakers. So this increased spotlight being shone on the Ivy League courtesy of the Crimson could not come at a worse time for the Red and Blue. With more eyes on the conference, Penn will feel additional pressure to keep the ship afloat.
Sports Editor Holden McGinnis: What it means for the Ivy League? Surprise, Harvard is good again this year. What it means for Penn? Absolutely nothing.
Harvard flirted with the top 25 for much of last season and yes, it is nice to see the Ivy League get some recognition in the national sports spotlight. But Harvard has been a top program for years now and received plenty of attention after a few tournament upsets in recent years. A ranking might be nice, but really this is just more of a signal that the Crimson are head and shoulders over the majority of the Ivy League.
For Penn, I don't think this changes anything. The Quakers are in a state of rebuilding and while this may shift some slight attention to the Ivy League, I see very little of that attention leaving Cambridge. Just because Harvard is ranked, doesn't mean there's any more pressure on this team to perform — there's already enough of that after the past few years. As coach Jerome Allen likes to say, he doesn't pay attention to the periphery. This is definitely on the periphery for the Red and Blue.