NCAA Basketball Preview: Ivy League Has a Whole New Look For 2010-2011 Season

Sam BlumCorrespondent INovember 7, 2010

NCAA Basketball Preview: Ivy League Has a Whole New Look For 2010-2011 Season

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Above is a photo of Chris Wroblewski, the point guard who helped lead the Big Red to the Sweet 16 this past March.

    This season, he will be the only returning starter, after eight seniors and the head coach, Steve Donahue, all graduated on to bigger and better things.

    Now Cornell is left with a young, inexperienced, and slightly vulnerable team. Donahue left Ithaca to become the head coach at Boston College (taking Columbia head coach Joe Jones with him as an assistant).

    The Big Red still are favored to have a good season, picked to finish third in the Ivy League this season behind Princeton and Harvard.

    However, it is open season in the Ivy League, and it's up there for any team that wants to take it. 

Brown Bears

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    Despite graduating their best player, Matt Mullery after the season ended last year, the Brown Bears are still expected to be a competitive team in the Ivies this season.

    They do return Peter Sullivan, who averaged over 12 ppg last season, and have a cast of younger players to complement him.

    The Bears were able to knock off Princeton in conference play last year and if things fall into place, they should be able to at least stay in the championship race in the final weeks. 

    They may be hurt by the fact that they play no difficult non-conference games in the season. The best team they play is Providence College, one of the lowly teams in the Big East.

    However, if they can have a good non-conference season despite the bad competition, that confidence may carry over into a good conference season. 

    The Bears open up play away against Fordham on Nov. 12.

Columbia Lions

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    The Lions were dealt a tough blow in April, when the beloved coach Joe Jones left help lead the Boston College Eagles, with good friend, and fellow former Ivy coach, Steve Donahue.

    However, the Lions rebounded nicely with their hiring of Kyle Smith, the assistant coach at St. Mary's, Calif., the past nine seasons.

    Smith is a great leader, who has always dreamed of coaching in an Ivy League School. He should do nicely with a good group of players that Columbia is sporting.

    The Lions are led by junior Noruwa Agho, who averaged 16 a game last season. They are a strong defensive group, but have work to be done on the offense.

    Brian Grimes and Asenso Ampim are both experienced seniors who will help lead the group.

    They are also hurt by a not-so tough non-conference schedule, however they do play a good amount of quality teams and if things fall into place, Columbia will be competing for an Ivy Championship this season. 

    They open up play at La Salle on Friday, Nov. 12. 

Cornell Big Red

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    Bill Courtney is all smiles. This may be the case despite the fact that he must follow up the best season in his school's history with a completely different set of players.

    Bill Courtney was brought into be the new head coach in May, and now, in November, it's showtime. Cornell is led by junior Chris Wroblewski, who is the only returning starter from the magical sweet 16 team of last year. 

    The team plays a fairly tough non conference schedule, which usually happens for mid major schools after successful seasons.

    It is important for them to not lose sight of the fact that a bad non-conference record will not mean anything in terms of their conference schedule. 

    They open their season at Albany on Friday. 

Dartmouth Big Green

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    Whewww, it has been a chaotic year for the Dartmouth basketball program.

    After their head coach quit a few days before the start of the conference season last year, the Big Green are hoping their new (used to coach them as well) Paul Cormier will be able to rebuild a program in that is in a complete nightmare now.

    The Big Green are a young team and will likely be an easy win this year for opponents, but the goal is that in a few years they will be able to bring the program back to respectability.

    Their two seniors, Ronnie Dixon and Clive Weeden, will hopefully lift them to some wins this season.

    Their first game is at Providence on Saturday.  

Harvard Crimson

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    Although the Crimson graduated one of the best players in program history to the NBA last season, in Jeremy Lin, it appears as if the Crimson are back and better than ever.

    Led by former Michigan coach Tommy Amaker, the Crimson are up there with Princeton as one of the favorites to take the Ivy crown.

    They have a young team, with amazingly no seniors, but players like Oliver McNally will be responsible to step up and be leaders. 

    They have a fairly tough non-conference schedule, which includes a trip to Michigan, where Amaker will have a homecoming of sorts.

    They will also play Connecticut again this year, and Colorado, which rounds out their games against major conference teams. 

    Their first game is on Saturday at George Mason. 

Penn Quakers

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    After deciding to keep interim coach Jerome Allen to play the role for another season, the Penn Quakers were ready to roll. Picked to finish fourth in the Ivies, the Quakers easily believe that they can, and will do better.

    Led by Zack Rosen and Tyler Bernardini, Penn is a high-caliber Ivy team that will make a lot of noise this season. 

    Pitt plays a very tough non-conference schedule, and will be ready for Ivy play once it starts. Despite being a bottom feeder last season, they did upset Cornell and do have the ability to shock a lot more this season.

    Their first game is on Saturday, at home against Davidson. 

Princeton Tigers

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    After competing with Cornell in the Ivy race last season, the Tigers are ready to return to greatness this season, featuring a strong starting unit and great defense.

    Led by Sydney Johnson coaching and seniors Dan Mavraides and Kareem Maddox, this Tigers team is a force to be reckoned with in a weak Ivy conference.

    Unless another team surprises, look for Princeton to run away with the title.

    Playing teams like Rutgers and Duke to start the year may be tough, but in the long run will only make them better.

    They open at home against Rutgers on Friday. 

Yale Bulldogs

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    Led by James Jones (brother of former Columbia coach, Joe Jones) the Yale Bulldogs potential success is very much up in the air.

    They could surprise this season if players like Michael Sands really step it up big time, and the younger players also are able to make their mark.

    However, even if this year isn't that great, the Bulldogs will have the potential to be good in the future. 

    They have a good, solid non-conference schedule, which should prepare the younger players for the rigors of a long conference season. 

    They open up against Quinnipiac in the Connecticut Six tournament on Saturday.