Another week, another bad loss in Ivy League play for Pennsylvania, as the Quakers couldn’t close down the stretch in a 69-64 defeat. After falling behind 61-59 with two minutes left, Dartmouth went on a 9-0 run to seal the game. Two Miles Cartwright turnovers during that run were indicative of the largest problem throughout the contest as the Quakers did a poor job holding on to the rock, committing 18 turnovers to just 12 by Dartmouth. The lone bright spot for Penn was the continued strong play of Freshman Tony Hicks, who scored a game-high 23 points on 7-14 shooting. As they approach the end of a lost season, the Quakers can take solace in knowing they have a real player with which to move forward.
2:00 PM: La Salle (19-7, 9-4 A-10) vs. Duquesne (8-19, 1-12 A-10)
Duquesne may call themselves the Dukes but folks won’t confuse them with the squad from Durham, as Duquesne comes to Tom Gola Arena last place in the Atlantic 10 and 2-12 on the road overall. Freshman guard Derrick Colter accounts for over one-third of the Dukes’ offense, leading the team at 13.0 points and 5.1 assists per game. The Dukes do not have any significant scoring threats on the interior which should bode well for a guard-oriented La Salle team. The Explorers currently sit tied for third in conference play and can’t afford to slip up in against a beatable opponent if it wants to hold on to a top-4 seed and the corresponding first-round bye in the A-10 tournament. No team can be taken too lightly, even Duquesne, as Temple found out in their one-point loss to the Dukes two weeks ago.
2:00 PM: Temple (20-8, 8-5 A-10) vs. Rhode Island (8-18, 3-10 A-10)
Speaking of Temple, the Owls bring their four-game winning streak into a home match against another lower-tier conference foe, the Rhode Island Rams. The Rams are a dreadful offensive team, ranking among the bottom tier of D-1 teams in FG% (40.1%) and assists per game (10.8). As a result, Rhode Island likes to play at a slow pace, to limit the total number of possessions and keep games close. With Wyatt, Randall, and company, the Owls simply have to much offensive firepower for the Rams to hang around at a faster pace. If Temple can get off to a hot start and force Rhode Island into playing catch-up and out of their comfort zone, I like the Owls’ chances to cruise to an easy victory.
6:00 PM: Pennsylvania (7-20, 4-6 Ivy) vs. Harvard (17-8, 9-2 Ivy) – NBC Sports Network
Coming off consecutive losses to bottom-dwellers Columbia and Dartmouth, the Quakers will see how the other half lives as they face first-place Harvard. Penn was easily dispensed of in the teams’ first meeting this season, 73-54, as Harvard’s Kenyatta Smith barely missed a triple-double with 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 10 blocks. Swingman Wesley Saunders leads the team at 16.7 ppg and the entire team scores efficiently as a whole, as the Crimson are 9th in the country in FG% at 48.8%. Fresh off a loss to Princeton last night, Harvard holds just a half-game lead in the Ivy League. With just three games left in the regular season and an NCAA tournament bid on the line, there’s no chance of Harvard not coming ready for this game. Given the way Pennsylvania has played of late, it’s hard to imagine them coming out on top in this match-up.
7:00 PM: Drexel (12-17, 8-9 CAA) vs. UNC-Wilmington (10-19, 5-12)
Following a too-close-for comfort win against Old Dominion Thursday night, Drexel ends its regular season slate at home against the Seahawks of UNC-Wilmington. A victory for the Dragons will lock in a 5th seed in the conference tournament and a road match-up against either George Mason, James Madison, or an American patriot yet to be determined. For UNCW, Senior Keith Rendleman is a monster on both ends, averaging team-highs 16.8 ppg (on 53.5% shooting), 10.5 rpg, 1.8 spg, and 1.5 blocks per game. This contest will be the Seahawks’ last game of the season as the program is ineligible for postseason play due to low Academic Progress Rates; look for UNCW to come out aggressive and leave it all out on the court in their seniors’ final collegiate game. However, UNCW doesn’t have much talent to throw at Drexel other than Rendleman and if the Dragons stay focused, they should finish the regular season .500 in conference play.
7:00 PM: Saint Joseph’s (15-11, 6-7 A-10) vs. Fordham (6-22, 2-11 A-10)
Today’s trend of Philadelphia Atlantic 10 teams hosting the dregs of the conference continues as the Hawks take on the Fordham Rams. The Rams come in having lost 8 straight and 11 of 12. Fordham excels on the glass, with a top-50 mark nationally at 37.6 rebounds per game (including 13.5 on the offensive end). However, part of the reason the Rams are able to secure so many rebounds is they miss so many shots, ranking among the nation’s worst at 40.2% shooting, and they play at a pace among the fastest 70 teams in the country, affording more opportunities. The Rams are led by the inside-outside tandem of Branden Frazier (14.3 ppg and 5.1 apg) and Chris Gaston (14.0 ppg and 7.7 rpg). Gaston was out injured in these teams’ first meeting, a 66-62 St. Joe’s victory at Fordham. The Hawks were led in that contest by Carl Jones’ 19 points and a double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds) from Ronald Roberts, Jr. St. Joseph’s is only one game away in the standings from missing the conference tournament altogether; look for them to take care of business against a Fordham team with nothing to play for but pride.