Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.
There hasn’t been much action on the floor recently as the Ivy League geniuses are in the middle of final exams — but there was one huge move off the floor when Penn fired head coach Glen Miller after an 0-7 start. The firing has generated rare attention to the league from the national media, and most of it has been negative. Believe me, I understand why people are saying that the Ivy League should hold itself to higher standards. But after following the team closely for the last few years, I must say that I firmly believe Penn made the right decision. A program that wins six conference championships this decade should never get to a point where it has the third lowest RPI in the entire country. The Palestra, college basketball’s most historic gym, should never be silent and half-empty. It wasn’t just the wins that disappeared; it was the spirit of Penn basketball. And only a move like this — rash as it may seem to outsiders — can restore the program’s tradition, which has been glorious for many, many years. I talk more about the firing in my new blog that just launched for all things Penn sports.
On to the (unofficial) power rankings….
- Cornell (7-2): Big Red has deservedly been getting some votes in the AP Top 25 poll.
- Harvard (7-2): Knocking off big-conference schools has almost become a staple under Tommy Amaker.
- Princeton (5-4): After losing four straight, Tigers have reeled off three consecutive wins.
- Columbia (5-4): Sophomore guard Noruwa Agho continues to dominate for the Lions, sharing league player of the week honors with Harvard’s Jeremy Lin after averaging 26.5 points per game in a pair of road wins.
- Brown (4-7): Bears lost four straight heading into a three-week layoff but their schedule has been difficult.
- Yale (4-6): Bulldogs are getting healthier heading into the new year.
- Dartmouth (2-7): Big Green earned its second win of the season with a 29-point thrashing of Division III Lyndon State.
- Penn (0-7): The Quakers are probably not the worst team in the league … but it’s hard to put them anywhere else since they haven’t won a game and have the third worst RPI in Division I.
B.C. CAN’T BEAT HARVARD: If not for the Miller firing, the biggest story in the past two weeks would be Harvard’s win over Boston College — for the second straight year. And this came only three days after the Crimson narrowly lost to Connecticut. Senior Jeremy Lin may be the best player in the league, and is even getting a little NBA buzz. But before anyone thinks of that, the Crimson go up against another Big East opponent when they face Georgetown (and former Ivy League coach John Thompson III) on Dec. 23. Could another upset be in the works? Don’t rule it out.
THE HAWK DIES AGAINST CORNELL: Cornell used a crippling 25-4 run in its most recent win, a 78-66 victory over St. Joe’s, to go into its break with a very impressive 7-2 record — considering its only two losses came against Big East teams. Still, the team hasn’t always clicked on all cylinders — which is why the 25-4 run was so nice to see for Big Red fans .
HITTING THE CENTURY MARK: In its 102-91 win over Wagner last week, Columbia put up the most points against a Division I opponent since the 1976-77 season — also against Wagner. At Penn, fans get free cheesesteaks if the team scores over 100 points. Unfortunately, they haven’t been giving out half of a cheesesteak in the rare cases Penn scores over 50 this season.
VINTAGE PRINCETON: The Tigers beat Monmouth, 46-42, on Wednesday, despite shooting 30.4 percent for the game. The last time Princeton won with a field goal percentage as low was in 2004.
BATTLE OF PROVIDENCE: Despite 12 points from each of the Sullivan brothers (Matt and Peter), Brown fell to Providence, 78-62, in the annual showdown for Rhode Island’s capital. Rhode Island — neither a road nor an island. Discuss.
BULLDOGS IN COLORADO: Yale will spends its New Year’s Eve in the Rocky Mountain State, taking on Colorado on Dec. 29 and Colorado State on Dec. 31.
WELCOME, JEROME ALLEN: Penn’s interim coach Jerome Allen, a terrific player in the 90s, will lead the Quakers into Davidson on Dec. 28 for his first game as a head coach. Penn then stays in North Carolina to face Duke on Dec. 31. Allen’s first home game in charge? That’s against Temple and his old coach, Fran Dunphy. Welcome to coaching, sir.
FEARLESS PREDICTION OF THE WEEK: I have a feeling Harvard makes it two terrific wins in a row after it meets Georgetown. And if Penn beats Duke on New Year’s Eve, I will drink about nine extra bottles of champagne in celebration.
Happy Holidays, everyone. Last year, I told everyone to pray to God Shammgod. This year, I recommend you pray to Boubacar Aw — who doesn’t have a religious name…just an awesome one.