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

You should hopefully know the drill by now. The middle of the week between Ivy contests at this time of year means Know! Your! Foe! updates about opponents Princeton has faced rather recently.

With Harvard and Dartmouth heading to Jadwin this weekend for the final regular season home games of the campaign, Michael James of the @ivybball Twitter account and Bruce Wood from Big Green Alert join us again to provide insight on how a pair of Tiger opponents' last two weeks have treated them.

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

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:

Penn and Princeton were coming. And Harvard was far from ready.

Fresh off a 78-63 beating at the hands of a Columbia squad which had lost to Dartmouth the night before, the Crimson stumbled back to Cambridge still 5-1 in the Ivies but having played like the fifth-best team in the league over that stretch according to Pomeroy. While Harvard’s offense remained prolific, trailing only Princeton in the efficiency ratings, its defense was the league’s worst by almost five points per 100 possessions. The Crimson was last in the league in defensive rebounding percentage, but there weren’t many of those anyway, as opponents were connecting on 39 percent of their threes and over 50 percent of their attempts from inside the arc.

Then, Harvard underwent one of the more jarring shifts in philosophies that one will see from a team leading its league race at the midway point of a season. Having seen its lineup of four guards and 6’6 sophomore forward Jonah Travis get eaten alive by many Ivy opponents, it decided it would start Kenyatta Smith, who if he had played enough minutes to qualify, would have been known as the guy leading the nation in defensive rebounding rate and block rate. In other words, the Crimson decided to play defense again.

Over the past four games, Harvard has played each of Steve Moundou-Missi and Smith for an average of 20 to 25 minutes per contest. Sure enough, the Crimson posted a defensive rating over those games that was 20 points per 100 possessions lower than what it had recorded during its first six Ivy contests. Even a rough shooting night at Brown that might have been a problem earlier in league play still yielded an 18-point road victory.

So after looking the part of the favorite through the entire non-conference slate before aimlessly wandering through its early Ivy games, Harvard might once again be back to its earlier form just in time to all but clinch a league title with a win on Friday. Two ominous facts still loom, however. First, the Tigers are finally the team everyone expected to see from the start, performing like the 60th best team in the country during league play and dominating Columbia and Cornell on its most recent roadtrip. Second, the Crimson hasn’t won at Jadwin since 1989.

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this gymnasium.

Dartmouth update:

As noted before, freshman point guard Alex Mitola either has a hot hand or a cold hand from long range. Princeton saw the cold hand from the Big Green's best outside hope in Hanover when he went 0-for-7 from the field and 0-for-5 from beyond the arc with some seriously ugly air balls.

Yale saw a scorching hot Mitola last weekend as the Gill St. Bernard's product hit 7-of-10 shots from outside the arc and 9-of-14 overall to score a career-high 27 points. Still, it wasn't enough to keep Dartmouth from absorbing a 78-67 loss. Mitola cooled off against Brown the next night, going 2-for-7 from long range and 3-for-12 overall in a 59-50 loss.

Even with Mitola lighting it up, Dartmouth shot 38.8 percent from the field against Yale (28.6 percent not counting the guard) and 35.7 percent against Brown, so shooting continues to be a sore spot. Conner Boehm, who had become the Big Green's most dependable offensive player since moving into the starting lineup, was 2-for-12 on the weekend. He's just 8-for-44 from the field since the last Big Green win.

Co-captain Jvonte Brooks, who hurt his thumb in the first minute of the Princeton game, hasn't played since and that has hurt. He's a banger on the boards who is Dartmouth's most effective player at getting to the line. Also worth keeping an eye on is Dartmouth center Gabas Maldunas. After putting up 15 and 16 shots against Princeton and Penn he shot just 12 times in last weekend's two games combined.

After posting back-to-back wins over Yale and Columbia, Dartmouth now has lost five consecutive games. Dartmouth won five games each of the past three years and seemed poised to have a marked improvement this year when it won its sixth game with nine remaining. But any chance for a dramatic turnaround has faded badly in the last two weeks.

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