Harvard-Penn Preview

The Associated Press

The Ivy League appears to be down to three teams in contention for the conference title. Harvard can further separate itself from one of them in its next game.

The No. 25 Crimson look to stay undefeated in league play when they visit Pennsylvania on Friday night.

Harvard (20-2, 6-0) moved back into the Top 25 after beating Cornell and Columbia last week. Those victories gave it the best start in school history and the best by an Ivy League school since Princeton opened 21-1 in 1997-98.

The Crimson were also ranked 25th in early January, falling out after two weeks in the poll. However, they've won eight straight since a 60-54 loss at Fordham on Jan. 3.

Harvard defeated Columbia 57-52 last Saturday, holding on after the Lions made a late push. Laurent Rivard and Oliver McNally went 4 of 4 at the line to finish the game after Columbia pulled within three points.

Rivard matched a season high with 20 points while Keith Wright added 15 points and six rebounds. The Crimson held a 21-8 advantage in made free throws.

Harvard is the last Ivy team unbeaten in conference play, with Yale (5-1) and Pennsylvania (4-1) the only other schools with winning records.

The Crimson have limited teams to 50.0 points and 36.0 percent shooting during the winning streak, and they've also been helped by strong recent play from Rivard.

The sophomore guard leads the team in scoring and is coming off a big week in which he averaged 18.0 points in the two wins. He has scored at least 16 in five of the last seven games.

Rivard will try to continue that trend against the Quakers. He had 21 points in a 79-64 win over Penn on March 4 - Harvard's fifth straight in the series.

Penn has won five of six, defeating Brown 65-48 on the road last Saturday after losing at Yale the night before.

After shooting 37.9 percent in the defeat, the Quakers went 9 of 19 from 3-point range and shot 46.4 percent overall against the Bears. Rob Belcore had 17 points and 10 rebounds while Zack Rosen added 11 points and five assists.

Rosen, the school's all-time leader in assists and minutes played, needs 29 points to move into fifth place on Penn's career scoring list. He's second in the Ivy League with 18.3 points per game.

The Crimson will look to slow the hot-shooting Rosen, who is connecting on 41.2 percent from 3-point range. Rosen, though, hasn't been at his best against Harvard, scoring 14.0 points and shooting 36.1 percent in six matchups - both below his career averages. He's also averaged 5.2 turnovers in those contests.

Penn is looking for Tyler Bernardini, its second-leading scorer, to end his shooting struggles. After averaging 15.6 points over his first 20 games, Bernardini has scored 15 and shot 5 of 22 in the last two.

What to Read Next