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Conference Spotlight: Ivy League

Anyone not in the College Crosse conference spotlight today, please take one step forward. Not so fast, Ivy League.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Conference Spotlight: Ivy League

Current League Standings:

IVY LEAGUE
TEAM OVERALL RECORD CONFERENCE RECORD WINS LOSSES MEDIA POLL RANK (2/23)
Princeton 2-0 0-0 Manhattan; Hofstra 18
Yale 2-0 0-0 Massachusetts-Lowell; Maryland 8
Brown 1-0 0-0 Quinnipiac

Harvard 1-0 0-0 Massachusetts
13
Cornell 2-1 0-0 Hobart, Binghamton Syracuse 9
Pennsylvania 2-1 0-0 UMBC, St. Joseph's Maryland 11
Dartmouth 0-1 0-0 Ohio State

All rankings based off of 2/23 Media Poll.

Wha' Happened?:

  • Penn: The Quakers started off 2015 with a couple wins over UMBC and (fellow #PhillyFour member) St. Joe's, before stumbling against the Terps last weekend. As defending Ivy League Flip Cup Tournament champion, Penn has a target on its back this year. But with The Big Barbeque in their backyard and a handful of key contributors from its 2014 squad back this season, Mike Murphy's boys have plenty of motivation and ammunition for another NCAA Tournament run. As a fan of all things Philly, hopefully when the Quakers are called on Selection Sunday, the committee answers.
  • Yale: When Handsome Dan's boys took a bite out of crime Maryland's NCAA Tournament hopes last weekend (for first time since 1925) ... well, that's when they got everyone's attention. Yale missed the Dance last year for the first time since 2011. An eyebrow raising win against a lacrosse blue blood like Maryland will go a long way to make sure they aren't snubbed passed over again this year.
  • Princeton: The Tigers sent the Pride packing in a snowy battle last weekend. While it may be too early to start screaming "TIGERS BACK!!!" we can at least start thinking about putting a 90's playlist together (Ace of Base - The Sign, still go hard though)

Upcoming Games of Earth-Shattering Importance:

  • Princeton at Johns Hopkins (February 28), Princeton at Maryland (March 7), and Princeton at Penn (March 14): After a couple games at home in the GREAT STATE OF NEW JERSEY, the Tigers make multiple I-95 trips to the Old Line State to take on Hopkins and the Terps on the 28th and 7th, respectively. Princeton then makes the short trip to the City of Brotherly Love to brawl with the Quakers on the 14th. By St. Patty's Day, we'll have enough of a sample size to know if the Tigers are "back" or not. One thing going in Princeton's favor this weekend is that the Tigers have beaten the Jays in their last three trips to Baltimore (2009, 2011 and 2013). (Note to self: call DP, tell him to tell our people to tool up).
  • Villanova at Penn (March 7), Princeton at Penn (March 14), Penn at Cornell (March 21), and Yale at Penn (March 28): With three ranked Ivy teams from March 14th through March 28th and a #PhillyFour match-up with Villanova on the 7th, the Quakers have pretty much declared war on March. Penn's gauntlet aside, on the 28th the Quakers also have to take on a wounded Penn State team who is probably looking at Penn like "That's a nice number 11 ranking you got there, would be a shame if something were to happen to it."
  • Harvard at Duke (February 28), Harvard at Holy Cross (March 9), and Harvard at North Carolina (March 17): Harvard has a busy three weeks coming up, with three top 20 duels on its plate. First the Crimson take a trip down to Durham on February 28th to take on the Harvard of the South. Then the Crimson must bash skulls with undefeated and current college lacrosse darling (SORRY MARQUETTE!!), Holy Cross. Finally, the Crimson have a St. Patty's Day beer chugging contest hostile skirmish with the Tar Heels of Chapel Hill. Going undefeated against these three teams will give Harvard all kinds of street cred major at-large consideration and probably the power of the sun. 
  • Cornell at Yale (March 14), Yale at Princeton (March 21), and Yale at Penn (March 28): With a once-in-a-century victory under their belt (haha, Maryland), I was ready to hand the Bulldogs an invite to the Big Sombrero last Monday. But pesky NCAA rules say that just because a team beat the Terps I don't have the power to put them in the tournament before Selection Sunday (oh I'm sorry, I thought this was AMERICA aka THE LAND OF THE FREE!  My bad!). Anyway, despite the fact the Elis looked better than a digitally restored copy of the The Skulls they'll still need to play out their season. If Yale can handle its business against Cornell, Princeton, and Penn, the Bulldogs will have the inside track for the top seed in the Ivy League Tournament and an at-large resume that screams "Yea, I know, right?"
"That Guy" Watch:
  • Mike MacDonald (Princeton): Sometimes it is difficult deciding who merits a spot in our "That Guy" segment. However, other times, players like Mike MacDonald drop NINE points on Hofstra in the middle of a blizzard, and make my job really easy. The Princeton senior not only leads the team in goals and assists, but he has more points (14) than the next two Tigers combined. MacDonald's excellent start to 2015 is one of the main reasons the Tigers are back in the top 20 this year and he'll need to keep the pace up if Princeton is to return to The Big Barbeque for the first time since 2012. 
  • Conrad Oberbeck (Yale): The 2014 first team All-Ivy attackman already has eight goals this season.  While the Greenwich, Connecticut senior's five scores against Massachusetts-Lowell were nice, it was his hat trick and two assists in Yale's four-goal win against Maryland that got #TheStreets really buzzing. Oberbeck led the Bulldogs in goals and points last year and he's back at it again this year, leading the team with eight goals and 11 points. He'll have to continue his strong pace if the Bulldogs are to make their third NCAA Tournament appearance in four years. 
  • Deke Burns (Harvard): Besides having an awesome name, Deke Burns earned a "That Guy" selection for his seven goals (on only nine shots) against Massachusetts. I guess the junior was lifting hard this past off-season, as he only needs 12 more tallies this season to eclipse his 18 from 2014.  With Duke, Holy Cross, and North Carolina in the next three weeks, Deke will need to demonstrate that his early season explosion wasn't an aberration. But if Burns keeps this pace up, he'll definitely be in the running for a 2015 first team All-Ivy selection by the end of the season.
NCAA Tournament Prognosis:
  • League: Back in January, if someone told me that on Selection Sunday the Ivy League would be, like,"I got 5 on it," I would've told them that they spelled "ACC" wrong and that drinking before noon isn't such a good idea. Well, with five teams now in the top 18, as Biggie would say, things done change. I'm not saying that EVERYONE in the Ivy League is going to make the tournament, but after Yale left the Terps slumped over, even I'm starting to be a Belieber believer in a multi-bid experience.
  • Yale: The Bulldogs victory over the Terps puts Yale in the same company as Towson and Holy Cross for best early season win. While the Bulldogs were expected to be better than both the Tigers and the Crusaders this year, I doubt many people had money on Yale when they took on the Maryland last weekend. The victory over the Terps gives Yale a major boost to their at-large resume. Should the Bulldogs make but fail to win the Ivy League Tournament this year, the win over the Terps might be enough to get Yale an invite to The Big Barbeque. 
  • Penn/Harvard/Cornell/Princeton: Not making the Ivy League Tournament might be the demarcation line for the powers that be Selection Committee that keeps one of these teams out of the Dance. All four will have at least two opportunities to pull a Yale and get a major nonconference win to boost their at-large resume. But should one of these five fail to get a major out-of-conference Ivy scalp and finish the season below .500 in conference play, they'll probably be told "You can't sit with us!" when bids get announced in May.