Harvard, Yale Highlight Ivy League Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll

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Harvard’s Bryce Aiken will be one of many players to watch on the Crimson this season. (PHOTO CREDIT: Boston Globe)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

The Harvard men’s basketball team was chosen to finish first in the Ivy League this winter, according to yesterday’s release.

Harvard, which collected six first-place votes, edged Yale by two points – the Bulldogs earned eight first-place votes, while tallying 118 points.

Princeton University, which is projected to finish third, garnered a trio of first-place votes for 114 points, while Penn and Columbia rounded out the top five.

Cornell, Dartmouth and Brown were projected to finish sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

Harvard welcomes back a quartet of its leading scorers from a year ago, including sophomore Bryce Aiken, who was tabbed the Ivy League Rookie of the Year last season.

Aiken, a first-team All-Conference selection, paced the Crimson with 14.5 points per game last season, while tallying a career and season-best 28 points against Yale. As noted in his player bio, Aiken became the second first-year since Siyani Chambers to earn first team All-Ivy League honors.

Yale will certainly be a team to watch this season and should receive a boost from senior Makai Mason, who has been selected as the Ivy League preseason player of the year, per various outlets, including NBCSports.com.

Mason earned first-team All-Conference honors during his sophomore season (2015-16) – he became the fourth sophomore in program history to earn a spot on the conference’s first-team.

Against Baylor in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, Mason netted a career and game-high 31 points, including 11 free throws to lift the Bulldogs to an exciting first round win.

Both teams will commence their respective 2017-18 campaigns on Friday, November 10 with Harvard hosting MIT and Yale facing Creighton at the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.

RECAP: Second Half Surge, Strong Defensive Play Carries Harvard Past MIT, 59-39

Harvard Crimson Logo

By Matt Noonan 

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Harvard commenced its 2015-16 men’s basketball season with a 59-39 victory over MIT on Friday evening, but the team’s initial win didn’t come easily.

MIT kept pace with its Massachusetts Avenue neighbor, trailing by six-points (25-19) at the break, but Harvard responded with a 25-9 run in the second half to push ahead for good.

Harvard freshman Tommy McCarthy led all scorers with 12 points, netting nine points in the second session, while senior Agunwa Okolie finished with 10 points.

As a team, the Crimson converted 20-of-52 field goals and netted 14-of-21 free throws. Harvard limited MIT to just 14 field goals, while the Engineers converted 3-of-17 trifectas and 8-of-14 free throws.

“I was pleased with our defense,” Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker said. “I think it’s been a calling card of our program – part of our identity and it is so important for us – (but) I feel like we lived up to that defensively (this evening).”

Harvard’s defense certainly helped the hosts limit MIT to numerous one-shot series, while defending freshman Bradley Jomard, who paced the Cardinal and Gray with 10 points.

“He is a good player,” Amaker said of Jomard. “He is very athletic and (he’s) an active kind of player.

“I think the key for us (in this game) was defending (Justin) Pedley, (who) has been a terrific shooter (and) scorer for their team. We really did a nice job (defending him as) he scored just two points from the foul line, so again, I thought it was a good team effort to allow us to hold (MIT) to 39 points.”

Junior Tim Butala concluded the contest with seven points; senior Russell Johnson recorded a team-high eight rebounds, while classmate Ryan Frankel dished out a trio of assists.

Harvard senior Patrick Steeves competed for the first time in his collegiate career, netting just one point at the stripe, but it was an important contribution for the Crimson.

“I am very happy for Patrick because he has been injured and banged-up throughout his career and (I know) how hard it is to come back and spend that time to get healthy with the injuries he had, so I was very happy for him,” said Amaker. “Our team was very happy for him and I think that is a really cool thing.”

Harvard will look to double its win total tomorrow evening when they travel to Providence College for a 7:00 p.m. tip-off. MIT returns to action next Tuesday, November 17 when they host Bridgewater State University at 8:00 p.m.

Yale Men’s Basketball Picked To Capture Ivy League Crown

Yale Bulldogs

By NoontimeSports.com 

Yale University received a special honor on Wednesday as the Bulldogs were picked to capture the Ivy League crown, according to the league’s preseason media poll.

The Bulldogs earned the top spot in an extremely close vote – it is the first time Yale was pegged to finish atop the Ancient Eight since the preseason media poll began 31 years ago.

Yale garnered five first-place votes, earning 117 points, while Columbia University (six first-place votes) and Princeton University (six first-place votes) were picked to finish second and third, respectively.

Harvard University collected 96 points, which was good enough for fourth place, while Brown University was picked fifth, Dartmouth College sixth, University of Pennsylvania seventh and Cornell University eighth.

Last season, the Bulldogs were picked to finish second, but wound up sharing the Ivy League title with Harvard, which defeated Yale in a one-game playoff by two points (53-51). The Crimson then went onto compete in the NCAA Tournament, but fell in the second round to University of North Carolina.

“The vote was really close so the league is wide open,” Yale head coach James Jones said in a press release. “I feel good about where our team is [in the preseason], and it is nice to be recognized.”

Yale begins its season on Friday, November 13 when they take on Fairfield University in the Connecticut Six Classic with tipoff scheduled for 3:00 p.m. The Bulldogs will face Harvard twice this coming season with the initial meeting scheduled to occur on Saturday, February 13 in Cambridge at 7:00 p.m.

March Madness: No. 12 Harvard Tops No. 5 Cincinnati, 61-57 (Game Summary)

By Matt Noonan 

The Harvard University men’s basketball team extended its season to Saturday as the Crimson defeated the fifth-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats, 61-57.

Wesley Saunders stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points (team-high), four assists, three rebounds and two steals, while Siyani Chambers and Laurent Rivard each netted 11 points.

Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick led all scores with 18 points, while Justin Jackson finished with a double-double of 13 points and 10 boards.

The Crimson, who entered the tournament as a 12th seed, converted 19 of 44 shots from the field, including 6 of 17 attempts from beyond the arc. As a team, they went 17 of 28 from the stripe.

The Bearcats finished 21 of 57 from the field. They out rebounded the Crimson, 34-33. However, Harvard won the battle on the defensive end, pulling down 24 defensive caroms.

Harvard led Cincinnati at the break, 36-29, but the Bearcats outscored their opponent in the second session, 28-25.

Titus Rubles brought the Bearcats within two points at 13:52 in the second half with a layup, but Harvard answered with back-to-back layups by Saunders and Evan Cummins that stretched the Crimson’s lead to seven points.

Both teams traded free throws down the stretch. Chambers and Saunders each recorded a pair at the charity stripe, which sealed the win and punched Harvard’s ticket to the third round.

Harvard (27-4) will play the winner of Michigan State-Delaware on Saturday. No time has been announced for the third round contest. Cincinnati concludes its season a 27-7 mark.

Mass. College Hoops Notebook: Recapping The Past Month

By Matt Noonan 

One month of college basketball is in the books. So, let’s recap and get you caught up on the latest news and notes.

* We’ll begin in Division 1 with the UMass Minutemen, who’ve returned to the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll. Massachusetts checked in as the 21st best team in the country on this week’s AP poll and 22nd on the USA Today poll. UMass, which is 6-0, earned its sixth straight win last night against Eastern Michigan.

They’ll look to keep their momentum going on Saturday when they host Brigham Young for a 1:30 p.m. tip-off.

* Harvard, a squad Sports Illustrated pegged as one of their preseason teams to watch, is currently receiving votes in the AP poll.

The Crimson, who have won three straight, return to the hardwood this evening when they travel across the river to face Northeastern University, tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

* Let’s travel down the road to Waltham, where Bentley University’s women’s basketball team will look to keep their perfect record intact when they host Merrimack College this evening. The Falcons are the number one team in this week’s USA Today Sports/WBCA Division II poll, as well as earned 29 of 31 first-place votes. They’ve held the top spot for three straight weeks.

Senior All-America forward Lauren Battista and All-Northeast-10 grad student Courtney Finn lead the Falcons in scoring with Bautista averaging 16.1 points and Finn 15.6. As noted in yesterday’s press release, both players rank second and third on the team in both rebounds and assists.

* Below Bentley in the Northeast Division is Stonehill College, a squad that’s currently 5-2 and has won four of its last six contests. The Skyhawks host Assumption College this evening, their fourth conference match of the season. Stonehill is 2-1 thus far against NE-10 opponents and 1-1 in Easton.

As of today, Mary Louise Dixon and Amy Pelletier lead the squad in scoring as both players are averaging 16.0 points, while Tori Faieta ranks first on the team in rebounds 7.7.

* Switching gears to Division 3, Amherst College’s men’s team, last year’s national champion, is currently the top squad in this week’s D3Hoops.com men’s Top-25 poll. The Lord Jeffs are currently 4-0 and will look to earn their fifth straight win this evening when they host Anna Maria; tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.

* Also on the men’s Top-25 poll is Williams, who sits six spots below their rival and WPI, which checked in as the 14th best team in the country. The Engineers picked up an impressive non-conference win over Tufts last night in Worcester, their 20th straight home court victory.

Through six games, Ryan Kolb leads WPI with 105 points (17.5 per game), while Sam Longwell ranks second with 92 (15.3).

* According to this week’s D3Hoops.com women’s Top-25 poll, Amherst remains the fourth best team in the country, while Tufts checked in the eighth spot and Williams the 13th.

* Finally, Wheaton College’s women’s basketball team earned an impressive win against Smith College last week, which pushed its overall mark to 5-0, their best start since 1994-95. Abbie Brickley leads the team in points (78), while Kiley Shoemaker ranks first on the squad in rebounds (47).

The Lyons will look to extend their winning streak to six this evening when they entertain Emerson College at 7 p.m. in Norton.