It is that time of year again. The hardwood at Universities throughout the country are reverberating with the sounds of basketballs. In the Ivy League, there has never been so much strength at the top heading in to a season. We rate and take a look at the top 3 teams:
Yale– Most of the preseason magazines have the Elis picked third, but most of those magazines do very little research into the teams, especially in non-Power 5 leagues. Yale is loaded. From top to bottom. The Elis might have their best shooting team in years. They have multiple scoring options both inside and out. All everything Jordan Bruner, injured last season in a preseason scrimmage returns. The 6-9 layer chose Yale over Clemson and a host of other more recognizable teams. He can shoot from the outside, score adeptly inside and block shots with abandon.6-6 junior guard Miye Oni already has NBA scouts looking at him. When he gets on a tear, as he did at Columbia last season, he can score in bunches.6-7 captain Blake Reynolds can shoot it and muscle inside and saw time on the magical 2016 team which beat Baylor in the NCAA’s. Alex Copeland is a skilled wing and frosh Matt Cotton was one of the top players in the New Jersey schoolboy ranks last season. Veteran head coach James Jones, in his 19th season at the helm is the winningest coach in Yale history and just might be the best coach in the Ivys today. The Ivy Tournament in at JLA on the Yale campus. That won’t hurt. Neither would a win at Duke in early December.
Harvard-Tommy Amaker returns all five starters from an NIT team, which almost beat Penn in the Ivy tourney finals. Junior forward Seth Towns is very skilled from the outside. Chris Lewis is as tough a rebounder as one will find in the Ivies.Point guard Bryce Aiken, injured most of last season has the same vision and passing acumen as his head coach, when he played for Duke.Guards Noah Kirkwood and Spencer Freedman are both highly touted frosh, who will provide the depth that last year’s team was lacking. The Crimson could very well beat UNC on the road in early January.
Penn-Steve Donahue, in his second stint at Penn led his team to an NCAA bid last season. The Quakers lost to No. 1 seed Kansas, but put up a tough fight. The key player for the Quakers is 6-8 junior forward AJ Brodeur, who averaged 13.1 ppg last season and is a difficult match-up for any Ivy team. 6-5 guard Ryan Betley also returns and he can shoot it with anyone in the league. The Quakers will have to find a replacement for graduated point, Darnell Foreman. He dished out assists like candy in his days playing at The Palestra. Finding a capable replacement will determine whether Penn will battle Yale and Harvard for the coveted Ivy NCAA bid.
Can the Ivy place two teams in the NCAA for the first time in history? It is certainly possible, given the strength at the top. The Ivy women did it a few year back. Why not the men this season.