Yale beat defending national champion UConn at the buzzer. Columbia made the best team in the country, Kentucky, sweat late into the second half. Harvard has won six consecutive non-conference games and will look to take out Virginia on the road next Sunday for its chance to continue to show off for a conference that isn't often talked about come at-large bid selection time in March.
In a snapshot, it makes one wonder just what's gotten into the Ivy League.The non-conference competitiveness against some of the heavyweights in college basketball might surprise some outside of the Ivy confines, but not those in it.
"It happens virtually every year. We have good nonconference wins, this year may be a little different because there are multiple teams, but certainly there will be at least two teams with some really good wins in the nonconference," Yale coach James Jones said. "It's something that happens every year, and I suspect it's going to continue."
Jones did say, however, that the buzzer-beating 45-44 victory for the Bulldogs against the Huskies, the first for Yale against UConn since 1986, helped raise more eyebrows nationally. Columbia's effort against Kentucky in a 10-point Lions loss added to the attention on the Ivy.
It certainly makes for a more interesting schedule when league play kicks off later in January. There is no conference tournament, and the NCAA bid goes to the team standing tallest after the regular season. Harvard has been the bell cow in the conference for the past few years, but with Yale at 8-3, and with Columbia and Cornell above .500, what is going on in the league should serve as a warning to the 7-1 Crimson.
"No one has any idea how good our league is from top to bottom, and that's OK," Jones said. "You don't have the opportunity to do what some of these other schools have done by virtue of their history. You are not going to get that. Our schools aren't best known for basketball.
"Our schools are known for Rhodes Scholars, we have one on our team [Matt Townsend]]. In any event, people don't understand, and hopefully we can open up some eyes and continue to play well."