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2015-16 Ivy League Post-Mortem

by - Published June 3, 2016 in Columns, Conference Notes

Sometimes, the basketball gods get one right. In 2016, they got one right with Yale.

In 2015-16, the Ivy League didn’t quite continue to steady climb it had been on in recent years. It was in a nice up cycle, but this time around, it didn’t have the same feeling not only among the contenders, but also in the middle of the pack. Part of that is because Harvard, who has ruled the league in recent years, dropped off significantly first from graduation losses and then further a key injury. The Crimson still competed, but this was a very different team.

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The Morning Dish – Saturday, March 5, 2016

by - Published March 5, 2016 in The Morning Dish

It hasn’t taken long to be reminded of why March is the best month of basketball (or to me, the best month of the year). In another sense, we’ve been reminded why, as wonderful as the NCAA Tournament is, conference tournaments are college basketball at its finest.

And we’re still only just beginning. Not only that, but there was big news in games outside of conference tournaments as well, making it the biggest Friday night in a while.

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The Morning Dish – Saturday, February 27, 2016

by - Published February 27, 2016 in The Morning Dish

For the final time this season, Friday night had a light slate with the Ivy League taking center stage along with the MAC, MAAC and Horizon League. At this time next week, we’ll be talking about conference tournaments as the best month of basketball beckons. For now, though, we can focus on a thinning race and one that was finally locked up on Friday night.

The featured matchup on the evening was a showdown between Columbia and host Princeton at Jadwin Gym. Just one game separated Yale and these two teams entering the night, with Columbia being a game back in the loss column and Princeton a game back in the win column. In a game with plenty of offense, Princeton had more of it, as Columbia shot over 53 percent from the field but allowed Princeton to shoot over 63 percent, including 13-24 from long range, as the Tigers beat the Lions 88-83.

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The Morning Dish – Saturday, February 20, 2016

by - Published February 20, 2016 in The Morning Dish

Friday night in college basketball tends to be seen as ho-hum at this time of the year, especially since Saturday is such a busy day. But this one was far from that, as there were three matchups of the top two teams in their respective conferences and all of them were important.

The first one of the evening was an Ivy League showdown that saw Yale visit Princeton. On the strength of a solid first half and 46 percent shooting for the game, Princeton made it tie in the loss column with a 75-63 win over the Bulldogs. Yale never quite got going offensively, shooting 38 percent from the field, and they couldn’t take advantage of a 38-25 edge on the glass. Justin Sears had a double-double with 15 points and ten rebounds, and Makai Mason had 18 points, but the perimeter players struggled to shoot on the evening.

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The Morning Dish – Saturday, January 30, 2016

by - Published January 30, 2016 in The Morning Dish

What Shaka Smart did at VCU changed the idea of what the program should be. He wasn’t just one more coach who came in, won big as the program did for years as one of the CAA’s signature programs, then moved on to greener pastures. Yes, he won big, highlighted by their run to the Final Four in 2011, but they were consistent winners. He brought them into the Atlantic 10 and made them winners there, including a conference title last season, before leaving for Texas.

Now Will Wade inherits a stronger tradition, but higher expectations. And while the Rams had a relatively non-descript non-conference showing, they now look like a team that grew from it. About halfway through Atlantic 10 play, the Rams have yet to lose, the latest being Friday night’s 79-69 win at Davidson.

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The Morning Dish – Monday, November 16, 2015

by - Published November 16, 2015 in The Morning Dish

As we gear up for the first of two weeks full of early season tournaments, Sunday was a decidedly ho-hum day on the bottom line. We didn’t have some of the surprise results we had the first couple of days, while all of the ranked teams in action won by more than 20 points. What we did have was a rivalry game late in the day that lived up to its billing, but also had a scary moment.

New Mexico traveled to Las Cruces to take on arch-rival New Mexico State in the Rio Grande Rivalry. Behind 31 points from Elijah Brown, the son of former NBA coach Mike Brown, they won 83-74. The Lobos continued their recent dominance in the rivalry, as they have won 14 of 17, including nine straight in Las Cruces. It was a close game well into the second half, before the Lobos eventually opened up a double-digit lead. … Continue Reading

A game a day for the 2015-16 season: February

by - Published November 12, 2015 in Columns

We conclude our look at our favorite games for every day of the season from November through February, our ultimate dream road trip through an entire college basketball season.

To refresh: in some cases they’re the biggest matchup of the day, in others they may be what we think will be the best game to watch. Some days the picks are obvious, others they are no doubt up for debate, but we limited it to one pick and one special mention each day. We started this on Monday with November, continued with December on Tuesday, January and Wednesday, and today we finish with February:

Feb. 1: North Carolina at Louisville. Besides the obvious skill of these teams, it’s always a sweet pairing of the Tar Heels’ running and the Cardinals’ pressure defense. Honorable mention: SMU at Houston

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2014-15 Ivy League Post-Mortem

by - Published July 16, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes

The old phrase “What a difference a year makes” normally has positive connotations. For the Ivy League following the 2014-15 season, however, the opposite would be true. At a time when the league appeared to be in a big up cycle, the rise didn’t quite continue this season.

There was very good basketball in the Ivy League, to be sure. Harvard and Yale set the pace with good non-league showings, with the Bulldogs pulling out the league’s signature victory at UConn in December. The middle of the pack was pretty good – perhaps better than one might have expected given the adversity some teams faced. But there’s no two ways about it: the league went from five postseason teams in 2013-14 to just two this time around. And while postseason bids is a very imperfect way to measure a league, it’s certainly one way to do it.

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The Morning Dish – Wednesday, March 11, 2015

by - Published March 11, 2015 in The Morning Dish

Robert Morris is the type of small eastern private school that fits in so perfectly in the college basketball landscape, one that every so often comes out of nowhere and makes some noise, adding a little bit of spice and a lot of charm to the sport.

Two years ago, the school made considerable noise in the NIT when it defeated Kentucky in a first round game. Tuesday night, though, the Colonials may as well have been Kentucky, for the role of villain they took on in the Northeast Conference championship game.

Robert Morris defeated sentimental favorite St. Francis (N.Y.) 66-63 in the NEC final, yet again depriving the Terriers of their first-ever NCAA Tournament bid. By now the story has been well worn: St. Francis is one of five original Division I members to never make the tourney since that level was born in 1939. And it might feel like there is a glass ceiling on those teams after the last two days, as William & Mary also lost in the CAA final Monday night for the second straight year.

… Continue Reading

The Morning Dish – Saturday, February 28, 2015

by - Published February 28, 2015 in The Morning Dish

The Ivy League race is even better now, and on a pretty good night for several players, too. At least one player posted a double-double in all but one game on the evening, but that’s not the biggest news coming out of Friday night.

The New York schools are playing spoiler. Less than a week after Columbia went into New Haven and beat Yale to knock the Bulldogs a game back of first place, Cornell hosted Harvard and snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Crimson. Neither team put on a clinic at the offensive end in Ithaca, but Harvard finished just over 25 percent in a 57-49 loss. Cornell was led by Shonn Miller, who missed all of last season due to injury and is reminding people how good he was two seasons ago, as he had 24 points and 15 rebounds to get the better of Wesley Saunders, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds for Harvard.

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Your Phil of Hoops

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Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

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