The Ivy League has improved tremendously over the past few seasons.
In 2010, Cornell advanced to the Sweet 16. In 2011, Princeton nearly upset Kentucky in the NCAA tournament. Last year, Harvard did the same with Vanderbilt.
Harvard had looked like the clear favorite once again this year, but the Crimson are depleted after graduating a pair of starters and then losing two more in the wake of an academic cheating scandal.
Columbia and Princeton initially had a small chance of surprising Harvard this season, but now that long shot has turned into something very realistic.
Here is a 2012-13 season preview for the Ivy League, with team-by-team breakdowns, a preseason all-conference team, and predictions for how the final standings will shape up.
Lost: Andrew McCarthy, Jean Harris, Christian Gore, Tellef Lundevall, Patrick Donnelly
Gains: Cedric Kuakumensah, Joshua Feshbach, Rafael Maia
Brown put together a disappointing 2011-12 season. The Bears only won two Ivy League games, yet still managed to finish in seventh place, ahead of Dartmouth.
The good news for Brown is that it returns three of its four top scorers, including an Ivy League Player of the Year candidate in Sean McGonagill.
McGonagill averaged 13.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists last year. He also shot 35.4 percent from three-point range and swiped 1.2 steals per game. McGonagill was Second Team All-Ivy League as a sophomore last season.
Alongside McGonagill in the back court will be Stephen Albrecht.
Albrecht, who transferred to Brown after playing his freshman season at Toledo, averaged 10.2 points, three rebounds and two assists. His shot selection needs to improve though, as he made only 35.9 percent of his attempts from the field.
The Bears also have a solid wing player in senior Matt Sullivan. Sullivan averaged 9.8 points per game last season and shot 38.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Lost: Noruwa Agho, Meiko Lyles, Matt Johnson, Steve Egee, Chris Crockett, Blaise Staab, Samer Ozeir, Darius Stevens
Gains: Chris Fitzgerald, Jeff Coby, Isaac Cohen, Grant Mullins, Zach En'Wezoh, Brad Gilson, Maodo Lo, Paddy Quinn
Columbia could be the team with the best chance at ousting Harvard this year.
The Lions return their four best players from last season, including First Team All-Ivy League selection Brian Barbour. Barbour was No. 5 in the conference in assists last year with 4.4 per game and No. 1 in free throw shooting at 90.1 percent.
The other guard spot is vacant after junior Meiko Lyles was taken off the 2012-13 roster. Lyles averaged 10.6 points last year and was No. 2 in the conference at 43.9 percent from three-point range. The Lions can look to Noah Springwater, Van Green or one of their many freshman guards to fill that hole.
In the frontcourt the Lions will have Mark Cisco, who has the potential to average a double-double with points and rebounds, and sophomore Alex Rosenberg, who last year showed he could do a little bit of everything.
Columbia has a strong starting lineup, but its depth will be an issue. The Lions lost a lot of their bench and role players to graduation or transfers, and in order to have any chance at dethroning Harvard they will need incoming players to make an immediate impact, even if just a small one.
Lost: Chris Wroblewski, Drew Ferry, Max Groebe, Anthony Gatlin
Gains: Nolan Cressler, Holt Harmon, Robert Mischler, Braxston Bunce
Cornell's glory days in the Ivy League are in the past, but they did have a respectable 2011-12 season in league play. Although their overall finish was just 12-16, the Big Red went a solid 7-7 in conference.
Cornell graduated its top two scorers, Chris Wroblewski and Drew Ferry, but they return the other key parts from last year's team.
Shonn Miller, who won Ivy League Freshman of the Year, is poised for a breakout sophomore season.
He averaged 8.9 points and 6.1 rebounds, along with 1.3 steals and 1.7 blocks. As the main player on the team, Miller will put up numbers that will be worthy of Ivy League Player of the Year consideration.
The Big Red has another solid sophomore in Galal Cancer. Cancer averaged 6.1 points and 2.7 assists and will start as the team's point guard.
Next to Cancer in the back court is senior Jonathan Gray. Gray has the potential to be the team's leading scorer after averaging 8.8 points per game last season.
Lost: Jabari Trotter, Kirk Crecco, David Rufful, Nick Jackson, Gediminas Bertasius, James Herring, Jenieri Cyrus
Gains: Connor Boehm, Alex Mitola, Kevin Crescenzi, Tommy Carpenter, Malik Gill, Brandon McDonnell, Matt Rennie
Dartmouth's last NCAA tournament appearance?
Go ahead and bet on that streak to continue for at least another season.
The Big Green finished in last place in the 2011-12 season, and they will likely repeat that finish in 2012-13.
Dartmouth does return its top four scorers from last year, but that is not necessarily a good thing when last year's team went 5-25.
The main bright spot for the Big Green is the frontcourt duo of sophomores Jvonte Brooks and Gabas Maldunas. Brooks averaged 9.4 points and 6.6 rebounds, and Maldunas posted 9.1 points and 7.2 rebounds.
In the backcourt they return R.J. Griffin (7.6 points per game) and John Golden (7.3 points per game).
If head coach Paul Cormier can get this group to play better basketball, maybe the Big Green can find its way out of the cellar, but a finish better than sixth place is unlikely.
Lost: Kyle Casey, Brandyn Curry, Oliver McNally, Keith Wright, Max Hooper, Andrew Van Nest, Corbin Miller
Gains: Agunwa Okolie, Mike Hall, Siyani Chambers, Evan Cummins, Camden McRae, Patrick Steeves
Harvard appeared to be the clear favorite in the Ivy League as the 2012-13 season neared. But everything changed when Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, arguably the team's two best returning players, were caught in a cheating scandal and withdrew from school.
The Crimson now return only one starter, Laurent Rivard, who averaged 10.1 points and shot 41 percent from beyond the arc last season.
With Tommy Amaker on the sidelines and a number of role players from last year that have the potential for breakout seasons, the Crimson are by no means out of the Ivy League race. However, a second consecutive conference championship and trip to the NCAA tournament is no longer inevitable.
Senior Christian Webster and sophomore Steve Moundou-Missi appear to be the best fits for taking the two vacancies in the starting lineup. Webster averaged 13 points per game as a sophomore but only 4.5 points per game last year as his playing time was cut in half.
Sophomores Wesley Saunders and Jonah Travis should be ready to take on bigger roles off the bench.
All four of these players need to step up their game if the Crimson wants to defend its title.
Amaker is once again bringing in a stellar recruiting class. On ESPN, four recruits are graded an 86 or higher and ranked in the top 75 at their position.
Lost: Zack Rosen, Tyler Bernardini, Zack Gordon, Mike Howlett, Rob Belcore
Gains: Tony Hicks, Darien Nelson-Henry, Julian Harrell, Jamal Lewis
Penn finds itself in a hole after a strong 20-13 season last year that resulted in a trip to the CBI quarterfinals.
The Quakers lost three of their top four leading scorers to graduation, plus one other player that was in the rotation.
Zack Rosen, who led Penn in scoring and won Ivy League Player of the Year, was the team's engine last season and his job now falls into the hands of junior Miles Cartwright.
Cartwright averaged 10.9 points and 2.1 assists last year and 11.7 points and three assists as a freshman. The 6'3" guard has the potential to take Rosen's place, but still needs to prove that he has the ability to deliver.
Lost: Douglas Davis, Patrick Saunders, John Comfort
Gains: Michael Washington, Hans Brase, Edo Lawrence
After going to the NCAA tournament in 2011, Princeton came back strong last year and finished No. 3 in the Ivy League at 10-4. The Tigers graduated guard Douglas Davis and forward Patrick Saunders, but they return three of last year's starters.
Ian Hummer, an early favorite for Ivy League Player of the Year, is back after averaging 16.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists as a junior. Hummer, the nephew of former Princeton great John Hummer, is a 6'7" forward who can do a little bit of everything.
Although still far from being a sharpshooter, he added a three-pointer to his repertoire last year and shot 31.7 percent from long range.
The Tigers also return T.J. Bray, a 6'6" guard who lead the team in assists with 3.7 per game and 119 for the season, and forward Mack Darrow. Bray is primed for a breakout junior season, as he will become Princeton's main force in the backcourt. Last year, he averaged 7.2 points and shot better than 40 percent on three-pointers.
With Harvard taking a step down, the Tigers will surely compete for a second Ivy League championship in the last three years.
Lost: Greg Mangano, Reggie Willhite, Brian Katz, Rhett Anderson
Gains: Justin Sears, Jack Montague, Nick Victor
Yale will have a lot of production to make up for after graduating Greg Mangano and Reggie Willhite. Both were All-Ivy League selections—Mangano on the first team and Willhite on the second team.
Mangano averaged 18.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks during his senior year. The big man also shot 33.3 percent on his three-pointers.
Willhite, who won Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, averaged 2.2 steals per game along with 12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists.
The Bulldogs do return a pair of potential stars in senior Austin Morgan and junior Jeremiah Kreisberg.
Morgan averaged 11.8 points and 2.3 assists last year. Although his three-point percentage dipped below 40 percent last season, during his sophomore campaign he made 44.6 percent from deep.
Kreisberg, a 6'9" center, has the potential to replace Mangano. Kreisberg averaged 7.7 points and 5.1 rebounds last year. As a freshman, he shot 55.6 percent from the field.
Ian Hummer's uncle, John Hummer, played at Princeton and was a first-round draft pick.
All-Conference First Team
Brian Barbour, Columbia
Sean McGonagill, Brown
Ian Hummer, Princeton
Shonn Miller, Cornell
Mark Cisco, Columbia
Preseason Conference Player of the Year
Ian Hummer, Princeton
Defensive Player of the Year
Shonn Miller, Cornell
Newcomer of the Year
Tony Hicks, Penn