NERDS VS. JOCKS 2011: Princeton-Kentucky (NCAA Tournament, Rd. 1)

The Princeton men’s basketball team squared off against the Kentucky Wildcats in the first round of the NCAA Tournament today. We recorded our own thoughts on the game, presented in semi-intelligible form below.

(Final Update) Well, the game was close. Waaaay closer than we expected. Princeton even had a five-point lead for a little bit! We were impressed. But then the wheels sort of came off, Princeton played sloppy basketball towards the end, and Kentucky’s ragtag band of (let’s be honest, probably hired) hoops stars eked out a victory. Princeton suffered defeat in much the same fashion it beat Harvard last weekend — with a last-second field goal. Tough loss, boys.

Final score: 57-55, Kentucky.

Anyway, on a non-ironic note — and as a Cornell fan acquainted with both soul-shattering, last-minute defeats, and losing to Kentucky — some props to Princeton for playing way better than anyone thought they would today. While losing doesn’t lend itself to quite the same level of braggadocio, apparently you brought the campus together, or something. That’s what the Daily Princetonian live-blog said anyway, right before challenging Kentucky coach John Calipari to a duel. So, that’s cool.

After the jump, check out all our coverage from the game.

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Princeton Buzzer-Beater Secures March Madness Bid, Harvard Goes Home to Weep in Private

Man, how it must feel to be a Harvard fan right now. It must sting, right? To be so close, you could feel it. A March Madness bid was yours. Basketball was finally gonna be your thing. (Lulz.) You were so sure it was finally going to happen for you this year.

Remember when Jeremy Lin was upstaged by a bunch of clowns doing the Beyonce dance last year? No more. Recall how Harvard never won the Ivy League Championship in basketball? A thing of the past.

Last night, Harvard’s shockingly competitive varsity basketball squad faced off against Princeton — which owns a share of the regular season title — to decide which team would go to the NCAA Tournament. And, with just moments left in the game’s second half, Harvard held a 1-point lead!

Then this happened.

Sure, Harvard held out hope — even given their soul-shattering, last-second loss — that their strong season would bring them an “at-large” bid in the tournament. They did, after all, have the 35th highest RPI in the nation! Which means … we’re not really sure, but it means something, right?

But again, Harvard hopes dashed.

Of course, Harvard wasn’t upset because Princeton stole their tournament spot. They were upset because, for the first time in their lives, things didn’t go according to plan. (Did we see the Winklevii on the Crimson sideline?) Princeton, meanwhile, snagged a No. 13 spot at the Big Dance. They will have the pleasure of losing in magnificent fashion to No. 4 Kentucky. (Much the same way Cornell did last year.)

More March Madness-related content for you to peruse, after the jump:

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The Mouth that Roared Podcast – Interview with Penn’s Coach Jerome Allen

While you’re pretending to “work” on those essays and readings in the library, no one will judge you if you listen along to this week’s podcast to help with that procrastination. Plus, you’ll really want to find out whose nickname is the professor. (Hint: Look at the players’ last names and pretend to be a HP nerd.) 

Also, congrats to all who made it onto the illustrious IvyGate’s Team of the Week:

G: Sean McGonagill (2x), Brown – 39 points (15-19 FG’s) vs Columbia
G: Drew Ferry (2x), Cornell – 19.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg on weekend
G: Zack Rosen, Penn – 12.5 ppg, 10.5 apg
F: Ian Hummer, Princeton – 18.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg
F: Greg Mangano (3x), Yale – 17.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 4.5 blocks per game

The Mouth that Roared Episode 2 – Coach James Jones

On this week’s installment of the Mouth that Roared Podcast, Tom Di Benedetto interviews Yale basketball coach James Jones. Also, Tom names his player of the week for each team: 

G: Brian Barbour (2x), Columbia – 23 points (8-9 FTs)
G: RJ Griffin, Dartmouth – 20 points (4-6 3pt)
G: Sean McGonagill, Brown – 11 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists
F: Greg Mangano (2x), Yale – 17 points, 12 rebounds, 7 blocks
F: Aaron Osgood, Cornell – 16 points, 6 rebounds off bench

Once again, good luck to all the teams this weekend!

IvyGate’s Sports Roundup: Meet our New Sports Enthusiast

With conference play this past weekend, Ivy League basketball is in full swing. Although we, your beloved IvyGate editors, admit that we’re the last to turn to for our sports expertise, we would like to present to you someone that should be on your weekly sports radar.  Meet Tom Di Benedetto, from Columbia University WKCR and Spectator fame, newest IvyGate member and our sports writer/podcaster extraordinaire. Look forward to weekly Friday podcasts with recaps and coach interviews galore. Also, expect brief roundups of games the following Mondays or Tuesdays like this one. We pass it off to Tom to give us insight on last week’s games….

I apologize if the following activates some gag reflexes, but my Columbia Lions (remember, no championships since ’68)  got one of their biggest Ivy League wins in forty years this past Saturday when they knocked-off three-time defending champs Cornell 79-75 in New York City.  Looking the better squad from the tip, the Lions (10-5, 1-0) never trailed after the nine minute mark of the first half, and withstood an awe-inspiring three point drilling spree from Andrew Ferry, who nailed seven treys en route to 23 total points.  Columbia head coach Kyle Smith rose to the occasion in his first Ancient Eight contest, finally defeating the Big Red (4-11, 0-1) after a nine-game drought for his program, and insisting afterwards that his team be considered with the league’s elite this season.  At any other time in the last four years, I would have called that crazy talk, but today I have to agree with him.

 Homerism aside, Cornell was actually more impressive this weekend than many thought they would be after losing stars Ryan Wittman, Louis Dale, and Jeff Foote as well as head coach Steve Donohue.  Plagued by an 0 for 11 start from the field from star point guard Chris Wroblewski and an inexperienced bench, the Big Red sill fought back from a 13 point halftime deficit to bring the game to within one possession in the final minutes.  Particularly scary was G/F Erick Peck, who is too big to be defended by guards and too quick to be covered by forwards.  He and 6’8’’ Brown small forward Tucker Halpern could well be two of the biggest match-up problems in the league this year.

Halpern and the Bears (7-8, 0-1) were also in action this past Saturday, but they were outshone by fierce man-beast and burgeoning Ivy star Greg Mangano, who led Yale to a 69-63 victory in Providence.  James Jones’ Bulldogs (8-7, 1-0) truly are the least appreciated program in the Ivies, and few of his own fans are even aware of his impressive 84-71 career record in a league dominated by Princeton, Penn, and most recently, Cornell.  Most predicted another tough season for Jones coming off his first sub-.500 Ivy record since his initial year on the job (99-00) and the loss of leading scorer Alex Zampier.  However, Mangano has emerged as an elite forward in the league (along with Harvard’s Keith Wright) after a monster 23 point, 17 rebound performance against Brown.  Most importantly, Mangano nailed the role of offensive leader, starting and ending each half well and staying effective late in the game despite foul trouble.  Not that I need to do any more Yale ass-kissing in this paragraph, but most Ivy fans know that in this conference, a great forward can carry a team to the top half of the league.

 It also should be mentioned that Harvard (12-3, 1-0) defeated Dartmouth (4-11, 0-1) 68-53 in Hanover on January 8 to kick off conference play.  This one was never in doubt though, and it is unlikely the rematch this weekend will even be this close.  Sorry Dartmouth fans, but this year is going to be a long one.

Ready to Go – Columbia Lions?

Columbia, we all know conference play for bball starts this weekend. Ok, a small proportion of us were aware of this , most of whom were reminded by our Cornell acquaintances. 

We all have other things on our mind – starting classes next week, surviving the snowpocalypse, and being jealous of half of Columbia going to see Colbert this past week.

I don’t think we can place all the blame on students. It’s not like we have rabid fans in the area dedicated to our sports team. Actually,  Henry Vick has created a blog entitled GOING LIONS.

IvyGate asked him why he cares about Columbia athletics - it’s not  like he gets a free t-shirt for going to a game.

Columbia’s Football stadium is up where I live and I got involved by attending a couple games up there and learning the basketball season was starting shortly. At that time I was without a project and I gave myself the challenge to follow the Lions all season. Little did I know how lucky I actually was. Coach Smith had just assumed control of a young, positive, enthusiastic Lions Team, the freshman have a lot of talent and everyone has bought into the program. Coach Smith is tremendous. His intensity and experience have lead this team and its clear from watching the bench during timeouts that everyone is on board and excited about the team. This has been so rewarding to watch because its so new and fresh, there’s so much positive hype around the players and the new coaching staff and the feeling around the whole Men’s Basketball Team has been very positive.

We all encourage you to check it out. It has a festive background, a lion of the week, and cartoon videos. Maybe more people will get more involved in this basketball season. Wait, what am I saying? The core will always be the biggest basis for our school spirit.

Ivy League Basketball: Wide Open for the Taking?

The Sports Network has predicted that things are shaking-up in the Ivy League this season in basketball. Here is their predicted order of finish:

1. Princeton

2. Penn

3. Harvard

4. Brown

5. Cornell

6. Columbia

7. Yale

8. Dartmouth

If this isn’t sufficient, they also provided a team by team analysis:

PRINCETON – Sydney Johnson has the Princeton program on the rise and that was evident in last season’s success when the Tigers went 22-9 overall and 11-3 within the Ivy League. The Tigers even reached the semifinals of the CBI and with three starters back in the fold, Princeton is now a favorite to win its first Ivy League title since 2004. The Tigers boast one of the top backcourt tandems in the conference with the return of Doug Davis (12.7 ppg) and Dan Mavraides (11.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg), while Patrick Saunders (5.1 ppg), Kareem Maddox (6.2 ppg) and Ian Hummer (6.9 ppg) give Princeton some options in the frontcourt.

PENN – The Quakers are ready to return to their glory days under head coach Jerome Allen, who took over after Glen Miller was let go in December. Allen went just 6-15 as an interim following Miller’s release, but the poor record was mostly due to a depleted roster. Penn lost a few players to injury, but now fully healthy, the Quakers should be ready to compete for an Ivy League championship. Leading the charge is scoring champ Zack Rosen, who tallied 17.7 ppg and 4.4 apg last season. If Tyler Bernardini can stay healthy, he will join Rosen to help form one of the elite backcourt tandems in the league. Jack Eggleston is another important player for the Quakers and he produced 13.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg a year ago.

HARVARD – The Crimson is coming off a historic campaign, winning a school- record 21 games and making a postseason appearance (CollegeInsider.Com Tournament) for the first time since 1946. Head coach Tommy Amaker has obviously done wonders for this program and he should have Harvard competing for its first-ever Ivy League title this season. The biggest issue for Amaker is replacing Jeremy Lin, who did it all with averages of 16.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg and 4.5 apg last season. Fortunately, the Crimson has options to pick up the slack and that includes Kyle Casey, who turned in 10.4 ppg and 5.1 rpg on his way to Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors. Keith Wright (8.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and Christian Webster (8.8 ppg) are two other player expected to make an even bigger impact this year.

BROWN – The Bears could be ready to take the next step under head coach Jesse Agel, as they return four starters and welcome in a strong recruiting class. Peter Sullivan leads the returnees after averaging 12.3 ppg and 4.5 rpg and he should be in line for an even bigger campaign. Tucker Halpern (8.1 ppg) and Andrew McCarthy (6.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg) are expected to build off solid freshman campaigns, while Garrett Leffelman (7.5 ppg) and Adrian Williams (5.7 ppg) should improve with a little more consistency.

CORNELL – Bill Courtney takes over the head coaching duties at Cornell and he has a tall task ahead of him considering the Big Red have won the last three Ivy League titles. Four starters are also gone from last year’s Sweet 16 club, so Courtney will have an even more difficult time keeping Cornell atop the Ivy League in 2010-11. Chris Wroblewski (8.9 ppg, 3.1 apg) is the most well known of the returnees and he will now be asked to take on a bigger role. No other player welcomed back even averaged 5.0 ppg, so the rest of the roster will be made up of new faces.

COLUMBIA – Kyle Smith steps in as head coach of Columbia this year and he is hoping to end the Lions’ current streak of 17 straight seasons with a losing Ivy League record. Noruwa Agho (16.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg) is Smith’s top returning option, while Brian Grimes (7.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Asenso Ampim (7.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) are two other weapons at his disposal. Plenty of experience exists for the Lions to improve on their five league wins from a season ago.

YALE – James Jones has consistently turned out competitive teams, but the Bulldogs could struggle this season without a big time scorer on the roster. Michael Sands (10.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg) is the team’s best hope to become a premier player, while Greg Mangano (7.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Porter Braswell (6.0 ppg) should be steady contributors.

DARTMOUTH – The Big Green faced all sorts of adversity last season and crumbled with a dismal 1-13 finish in the Ivy League. Helping to rebuild the program now falls on the shoulders of Paul Cormier, who coached the Big Green from 1984-91. Cormier welcomes back four starters, but none of which even averaged double figures. Ronnie Dixon (9.3 ppg) and Clive Weeden (5.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg) are two of the returnees hoping to turn this team around, and they will receive help from David Rufful (7.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg) and Jabari Trotter (6.5 ppg).

Flashback 2006: Remember When Penn Basketball Didn’t Suck?

Ooooooh merciful heavens! Ne’er since the demiurge unloosened its diluvial umbrage hath anybody quite so ably — MADE. IT. RAIN.

This video has been circulating around the Internet in earnest of late. Maybe its no “Boom Goes the Dynamite,” but it still makes us smile all the same.

The alley-oop actually dates back to the 2006-2007 season, when the Quakers faced off against Florida Gulf Coast in its regular season opener. The play’s executor was Ibrahim Jaaber, a 6’2” point/shooting guard who played college hoops in Philly from ’03 to ’07 and wracked up consecutive Ivy League Player of the Year awards in his junior and senior seasons. He’s also the Ancient Eight’s all-time steals leader with 303 takeaways and a two-time AP All-American honorable mention.

Jaaber, ever the showboat, dropped the dunk in question with 37 seconds left in the game, which his team won by a score of 97-74.

Penn went on to win the Ivies that year and scored an NCAA tournament berth. It was the last time the team wasn’t terrible. Jaaber graduated and the Quaker’s might as well have replaced him with this guy. Their record is 29-58 since.

Mr. Jaaber expatriated and now plays pro ball in Bulgaria, where he is a naturalized citizen. He tells anyone who asks that he played for Penn State. (We would imagine.) Meanwhile, Penn basketball fans no doubt wake up in cold sweats thinking back to a time when they wouldn’t lose to Phillips Exeter’s JV squad.

Much thanks to our Harvard tipster and BostonBarstool.com for unearthing.

Cornell Basketball and Hockey Captains Demand that You Put a Ring on It

Just when you thought “Single Ladies” parodies were tired and stale — well, okay they still are… But at any rate, this video is incongruous and wacky enough to tickle our fancy. Here are Cornell’s basketball and hockey captains awkwardly dancing/convulsing to the dulcet tones of Beyonce’s seminal relationship anthem. The eligible ladies in question are Louis Dale, Jeff Foote, Ryan Wittman (ballers) and Colin Grenning, Brendon Nash, and Joe Scali (skaters.) Apparently, the video is part of a promotion for Cornell’s prom-like end of year dance (Congrats! You’re all invited!) We’re especially fans of 2:02, at which an enthusiastic head-jerk sends a pair of athletic sunglasses flying. He should have put a band on it.

Video.

Cornell Coach Heads to BC

After one of Cornell’s most successful bball seasons ever, its head Coach Steve Donahue is jumping ship, leaving the Ivy League’s fair shores and heading to the ACC. And apparently, that’s not enough for dastardly Donahue: he’s rumored to be in talks with several other Ivy League coaches, luring them to mount a similar rebellion, and join his Staff at the BC Eagles. Traitorous dog.