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Know! Your! Foe! - Harvard & Dartmouth updates.

Hot on the heels of last week's Columbia and Cornell updates in our Know! Your! Foe! series we're back with Q&As about this weekend's opponents.

After the jump you'll find wise words from Michael James of 14-Game Tournament and Bruce Wood from Big Green Alert.

Both do a superb job updating the play of opposition Princeton initially faced less than two weeks ago.

If you want to read their original takes on these teams, please check out these Harvard and Dartmouth K!Y!F! posts.

Additionally, if you cover a team the Tigers will face down the line, let us know. It would be great to talk with you.

Harvard update:

Harvard had seized control of the Ivy race for a moment – a very fleeting moment. For a night after knocking off the top contender Penn at The Palestra to grab a two-game lead in the title chase, the Crimson fell at Jadwin for the 23rd consecutive time. That loss added a sharp curve to what the pundits believed would be a clear and easy path for Harvard to its first NCAA bid since 1946.

The Crimson still had the opportunity to clinch a share of its second Ivy title in its history with a clean sweep of its next two weekends – both at home. The margin of error had dropped dramatically, though. Lose any of those four contests, especially to the wrong team, and Harvard would not only need to win out but would also require help to avoid another playoff.

The first test was passed in dominating fashion. Harvard’s defensive shut down Brown for a 10 minute span in the first half en route to a 21-point halftime lead, and it never really looked back. The following evening, the Crimson hopped out to a 20-point lead on Yale midway through the first half, only to let the Bulldogs trim that margin to four early in the second. Once again, though, the Harvard defense clamped down. As has often been the case this season, the Crimson owned the final 10 minutes and cruised to a comfortable 15-point victory.

While the win bought Harvard a two-game lead over Yale, the Bulldogs weren’t the only team in the Crimson’s rear-view mirror. Penn and Princeton each pulled off sweeps of Columbia and Cornell – though the former had more of a flair for the dramatic than the latter – to remain one and two games back in the loss column, respectively. That kept Harvard’s magic number for an NCAA bid at four and forced the Crimson to need to sweep to clinch a share of the title.

Only two games have passed since the last meeting between these two schools, so not too much has changed. Reigning Ivy Player of the Year Keith Wright had a solid weekend against Brown and Yale, while Brandyn Curry finally broke out offensively with an 18-point game against the Bulldogs. Curry is always an important playmaker for the Crimson, but when he’s scoring he becomes more dangerous, because opposing defenses can’t sag off to defend against the drive and dish.

In the first meeting, Princeton exposed Harvard’s defense with cuts that led to layups or mismatches in the post. The freshmen on the Crimson had a particularly tough time adjusting to that style of play. Harvard must be better prepared to defend that element of the Princeton offense the second time around, or else another defeat could easily be in the cards. Like last year, the Crimson needs a big game out of Kyle Casey, and that starts with the foul-proned junior being able to stay on the floor. Finally, Harvard has to earn a free-throw advantage and exploit it. While the Tigers have a big squad, they will concede fouls, so taking it into the trees and grabbing free points at the line is an effective strategy to execute an efficient offense against Princeton.

Dartmouth update:

Not much to report in the two weeks since Dartmouth traveled to Princeton and Penn, but a lot to report: The Big Green snapped its Ivy League winless skein with a 58-53 win over Brown. More about that in a bit, but the weekend began with a 70-61 loss to Yale.

There was a time when some colleges provided shot charts with outlined circles representing misses shots and solid circles representing made baskets. If they still did that in Hanover there would have been just five circles outside the arc (none filled), perhaps two or three circles from as far away as 10 feet (maybe one filled) and a bucket-load of ink under the basket. The Dartmouth game plan was to drive, drive and drive some more on the soft interior Yale defense and that's what the Big Green did. The stats will tell you Dartmouth scored 34 points in the paint but the feeling here is that there were probably another dozen points or more scored on the edge of the paint. The Big Green was within five points with a minute and a half to go but Yale put the game away by going 10-for-10 from the foul line in the final two minutes. Freshman center Gabas Maldunas had a 23/11 double-double for Dartmouth and freshman forward Jvonte Brooks 14 points. Fellow freshman John Golden took just one shot (he made it) and had one rebound before fouling out in 23 minutes on the floor. Yale, looking a lot like a team that had Harvard on its mind, went 30-for-33 from the foul line to win the game while Dartmouth was 15-for-22.

The big news on the weekend was that a Dartmouth team that had coughed up second-half leads down the stretch in more than a handful of games this winter reversed course and took one away from Brown the next night. A 15-3 run over the final seven minutes turned a 50-43 deficit into a 58-53 win that stopped the Big Green's conference losing streak at 20 games. Taking the blame for a game plan that he said cost Dartmouth the game against Yale the night before, coach Paul Cormier gave the Big Green a little more freedom and it started on the first Dartmouth shot of the game as Golden said this night would be different than Yale as he came right out and drained a 3-pointer. The Green would go on to make 6-of-14 triples after coming up empty from long range the night before for the first time in more than a year. The biggest 3 was from RJ Griffin and it tied the score with 3:44 remaining. Dartmouth had trailed the entire second half and after Griffin's bucket made it 51-51 Dartmouth was never behind again. Griffin, arguably the Big Green's best shooter, added two free throws and then an assist on a Maldunas bucket to give Dartmouth a 55-51 lead heading into the final minute. Sophomore point guard Tyler Melville, who seems to be able to get into the paint against just about anyone, led Dartmouth with 15 points but had just one assist.

The good news for Dartmouth was the athletic Golden picking up his game and Griffin getting going and coach Paul Cormier perhaps sparking the team when he was whistled for a technical with 13:53 remaining. Freshmen Golden and Brooks had been taken to task a bit in the morning newspaper for the theatrics they have been showing when they disagree with calls and they were in much better control of their emotions against Brown, leaving it to their coach to stand up for them with the officials. To be fair, both coaches had a good deal they could have complained about Saturday night.

Steven Postrel said,

February 23, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

I'm kind of surprised that the Harvard game hasn't been picked up by ESPN3. If you're going to send a crew up there for Saturday, why not get both critical games of the weekend?

Jon Solomon said,

February 23, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

I don't think it is that simple.

For an ESPN3 broadcast there's a full crew of camera/announcers/producers/etc creating what you see.

That's no simple expense for the network or the home school, which holds the rights to this broadcast.


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