What Happened Last Week: The biggest Ivy League basketball weekend in quite some time. On Friday, Yale beat Harvard to claim its first Ivy championship in a decade. Saturday afternoon, word leaked that Penn will find a new coach after the season. And that night, Yale’s last-second loss at Dartmouth left the Bulldogs tied with Harvard atop the league and headed for a playoff.
1. Per Ken Pomeroy’s win probability chart, Yale’s chances at Dartmouth peaked at somewhere around 99% in the final minute. When Connor Boehm missed a shot with 28 seconds remaining and the Big Green down by five, Yale could taste the NCAA tournament (and the hidden Ivy League trophy). A loose-ball foul on Armani Cotton seemed academic, leaving the visitors up three with the ball. But Javier Duren was tied up in the backcourt and Miles Wright dropped a wide-open three-pointer, setting up a wild finish.
Yale has been deadly in end-game situations this year, so it was no surprise when Duren drew two free throws with 2.3 seconds remaining. But he made only one — and it was the second one, leaving the clock stopped — allowing Dartmouth to throw a home-run pass that Justin Sears batted out of bounds.
From under the basket, the Big Green ran a beautiful baseline inbounds set to free Gabas Maldunas for a layup, sending Harvard’s gym into celebration and denying (or at least postponing) the Bulldogs’ first NCAA tournament since 1962.
2. Dartmouth’s thrilling victory had repercussions beyond Harvard and Yale — it gave the Big Green a 14-14 record for the season, making them eligible for their first postseason appearance since 1959. They wouldn’t have had a chance if not for another wild game on Friday night. Dartmouth trailed Brown 50-26 with 14 minutes to play, and their postseason hopes seemed dashed. (KenPom gave them roughly a 3% chance of winning at that point.) But the Big Green has gone on the league’s craziest runs all season — including 26-2 at Harvard and 18-4 at Columbia — and they flattened the Bears with another spurt.
Dartmouth scored 11 straight points in 66 seconds (including an oddly timed technical foul earned by Brown coach Mike Martin), then reeled off another 8-0 run shortly after. John Golden scored a season-high 12 points with timely plays, and Maldunas was a factor on both ends, blocking four shots. The Big Green’s biggest spark came from Malik Gill, whose contested three-pointer in the final minute put the hosts ahead for good. Brown went just 13-26 from the free-throw line in a losing effort.
Thanks to a thrilling weekend, Dartmouth finished the season with a five-game win streak, rising from 2-7 and the Ivy cellar to 7-7 and fourth place (its first top-half finish since 2009). Assuming the Big Green receive an invite to the CIT (or perhaps the CBI), it will be well deserved.
3. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported Saturday afternoon that Penn coach Jerome Allen will not return next season, which was surprising news only for its timing. Under Allen, the Quakers finished below .500 in three straight seasons for the first time ever, and this year’s seven-game losing streak was the longest in team history. Allen is a Penn icon who remains well-liked among players and the community, but the program needed a change.
Allen was told last Monday that he would not be allowed to return next year, per The Daily Pennsylvanian; Penn went on to snap its losing streak with a sweep of Columbia and Cornell last weekend. Maybe lame-duck head coaches are the new market inefficiency?
Player of the Week: Maodo Lo, Columbia — It’s Monday, which means it must be time for another edition of Maodo Lo Shot Chart Theater. Lo scored a career-high 37 points in his season finale at Princeton, and unlike his 33 against Harvard last week, most of them came from outside (sometimes way outside). Lo drained 11 three-pointers at Princeton, setting an Ivy League single-game record. Usually, such a performance would get lead billing; on Saturday, it was maybe the fourth-biggest story in the Ivy League.
Rookie of the Week: Miles Wright, Dartmouth — The Big Green’s game-winning shot wouldn’t have happened if not for Wright’s three-pointer that tied the game 12 seconds earlier, which in turn was made possible by Wright’s hustle for a rebound and two free throws on the prior possession. Before the final minute, the rookie hounded Yale’s ballhandlers for five steals, keeping the hosts close while their offense was struggling.
The Week Ahead: Harvard and Yale will meet at The Palestra on Saturday (time TBD), in the first Ivy League playoff in four years — and the first ever not involving either Penn or Princeton. Yale is ranked #75 in KenPom, while Harvard is #79, so this playoff shapes up to be just as exciting as the last one. The Bulldogs just won by 10 in Lavietes Pavilion, but a lot went right for them in that game, which won’t necessarily repeat itself this weekend.
We will reveal our Big Apple Buckets Ivy awards on Wednesday morning. The league’s official awards, though slightly less prestigious, will also be announced this week.
1. Harvard (11-3) — It’s remarkable how successful Harvard’s scoreboard-watching has been over the past few years. In 2012, the Crimson earned their first-ever NCAA bid when Princeton beat Penn in the season’s final game. In 2013, they entered the final weekend a game behind Princeton, winning the title outright only after the Tigers were swept at Yale and Brown. Harvard has deserved its success, but its past 4-5 years could have played out much differently.
2. Yale (11-3) — Makai Mason is likely Yale’s point guard of the future, but he was critical in the present on Saturday night. With Javier Duren limited by foul trouble and the Bulldogs’ role players scuffling, Mason came off the bench to score 19 points on 9-11 shooting.
3. Princeton (8-5) — Princeton was down 83-74 with two minutes remaining after Lo’s 11th three-pointer, but the Tigers scored the final 11 points to clinch their own postseason eligibility. They took advantage of two rare Lo misses and scored on four straight possessions, including two tough baskets through contact by Hans Brase. Both teams scored at least 1.32 points per possession in the shootout — and with most players returning, expect more of the same next year.
4. Dartmouth (7-7) — Harvard gave Gabas Maldunas and Dartmouth plenty of love on Saturday:
…while others directed their gratitude toward higher powers:
5. Columbia (5-9) — The Lions needed just one win this weekend to clinch postseason eligibility, which made a road sweep particularly disappointing. Before collapsing at Princeton, Columbia was upset at Penn, managing only six points in the first 19 minutes. Even after all that, Lo was this close to saving the Lions at the buzzer at Jadwin (and reaching 40 points):
Video via the Ivy League Digital Network
6. Cornell (5-9) — The Big Red needed a road sweep to be eligible for the postseason; they got swept instead, though Shonn Miller averaged 24 points per game in the final weekend of his Ivy career. With Miller, Galal Cancer and Devin Cherry all set to graduate, the Big Red might be in trouble next season.
7. Brown (4-10) — Rafael Maia ended his career in style, posting double-doubles in each of his last two games, but it was a forgettable Ivy campaign for the rest of the Bears. They’ll always have the win at Providence — which will mark the second time in three seasons a last-place Ivy finisher beat an at-large NCAA tournament team.
8. Penn (4-9) — The Quakers doubled their Ivy win title last weekend, offering some hope for next year with most of their core returning. Penn had the second-worst offense in Ivy play, but no team scored more efficiently against Cornell than the Quakers did in either game (1.22 points per possession in Ithaca, 1.11 at home).