- Jim Root
(check out the Ivy preseason preview here)
3MW’s All Conference Team:
Player of the Year: Miye Oni, Jr., Yale
Coach of the Year: Mitch Henderson, Princeton
Newcomer of the Year: Noah Kirkwood, Fr., Harvard
Freshman of the Year: Noah Kirkwood, Harvard
1. Who Needs Towns?
Harvard got zero games out of last year's Ivy Player of the Year, Seth Towns, but the Crimson stil managed to earn a share of the league title. Bryce Aiken also missed the nonconference portion of the year, but he rteurned for Ivy play and proceeded to shred the competition - he's just on another level. Freshman Noah Kirkwood will be the program's next star, and for a team with no seniors in the regular rotation, Tommy Amaker's squad could be tremendous in 2019-20.
2. Battle for the Playoff
The race for the fourth and final playoff spot came down to the final day, as Penn hosted Brown for all of the marbles. Also on the line was Brown going for its first ever 20-win season in program history, but unfortunately, the Bears came up short. Cornell's win over Dartmouth made it a 3-way tie, but the Quakers held the edge and qualified for the winner-take-all event. Despite losing sharpshooter Ryan Betley to injury in the season opener, Penn is nearly as dangerous as last year.
3. Tiger Troubles
Princeton had plenty of reason to believe it could contend for the Ivy title entering this year, led by two senior stars in Devin Cannady and Myles Stephens along with a Top 100 freshman in Jaelin Llewellyn. Of course, nothing comes easy for Ivy Leaguers, and some bad luck plus self-inflicted wounds submarined a true title push. Llewellyn missed the season's first seven games, and he never really figured out how to shoot after that (abysmal 37% effective field goal percentage). Adding insult to injury, Cannady was suspended and eventually left the team following an incident with police. And now, key wing Ryan Schwieger is out with a concussion; the two games without him to end the year did not go well. Stephens, big man Richmond Aririguzoh, and Llewellyn give the Tigers a chance to compete, but it's going to be a steep uphill battle in New Haven.
Only four teams qualify, and the semis and final are all played in New Haven, CT, on Yale’s campus.
(Bring back The Palestra!!!)
Best Team and Projected NCAA Tournament Seed
It's difficult to pick a favorite between Harvard and Yale after the two tied atop the league. Harvard swept the season series, but the matchup in New Haven was a mega heist. And guess where this tournament is being held! If you guessed Yale, congratulations, you have passed the "context clues" exam. Despite getting the 1 seed, Harvard also has the more difficult quarterfinal matchup; they're a pickem against Penn, whereas Yale is a 10.5-point favorite against ailing Princeton.
Both Harvard and Yale will be around a 14 seed, although it's possible Harvard slides down to a 15, whereas Yale has a chance to bump up to a 13. Both have the talent to be a giant pain in the ass for a higher seed, particularly Yale, who (in my humble opinion) is better coached.
Dark Horse Team
Can there really be dark horses in a four-team tournament? Probably not. But that’s the title of this section, and I WILL stand by tradition. I think Princeton's roster issues are too much to overcome, so somewhat by default, I'll say Penn. The Red and Blue have struggled in conference play after a highly impressive November and December, but Steve Donahue's precise offense will always give them a chance. Penn knocked off Yale in the penultimate game of the regular season in what was essentially the Quakers' first playoff game, so we know they're capable in a desperate situation.
(4) Penn over (1) Harvard
(2) Yale over (3) Princeton
(2) Yale over (4) Penn