The Ivy League is different than it used to be. The league isn’t all about running the Princeton offense now with heady, sharpshooting guards and crafty, undersized centers. It was never more clear than in the Ivy championship Sunday, a high-tempo, high-scoring affair in Connecticut, featuring multiple potential NBA players.
Freshman guard Bryce Aiken, a former top-100 recruit in the 247Sports.com composite rankings, fired up 38 points for the Harvard Crimson, but the Yale Bulldogs’ offense was every bit as exhilarating and effective as Harvard’s and it propelled Yale to the NCAA Tournament with a 97-85 win in New Haven.
Yale put its 97 points even though its potential NBA guard Miye Oni only got to play 27 minutes because of foul trouble. The star shooting guard was the Ivy Player of the Year this season, averaging 17.6 points per game, 6.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.3 blocks. Oni, who was once committed to Division III Williams College, currently projects as a second-round pick by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony because of stuff like this:
Oni did score 17 Sunday thanks to a 10-of-10 game at the free-throw line, but the Bulldogs blew away the Crimson when Oni was on the bench for nearly half the second half because of foul trouble. When Oni went to the bench with 14:13 left, Yale trailed 54-53. When the junior checked back in, Yale led 84-74 after the Bulldogs ripped off a 15-0 run with the guard on the bench. At one point in the first half, Yale made eight straight shots as part of a back-and-forth flurry.
The key to it all was senior guard Alex Copeland, who went toe-to-toe with Aiken and scored 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting, while handing out seven assists. He hit pull-up three-pointers, broke down Harvard with his handle and, most importantly for the Bulldogs, he pushed the pace relentlessly.
Yale finished the season with the 25th highest scoring offense in the country, averaging 80.6 per game heading into Sunday. The Bulldogs do it by running the 33rd fastest pace offense in the nation at 74.9 possessions per game, which makes them a massive outlier among the Ivy contenders from this season. Harvard is No. 172 with 71.2 possessions per game. The Cornell Big Red, which also has a potential NBA shooting guard in Matt Morgan, was No. 175 in tempo.
Yale is one of the least Ivy-like teams to come out of the league in years and even if the Bulldogs weren’t the best team in the league this year, they were certainly the most scary option for a Final Four hopeful to run into Thursday or Friday. The No. 3-seed LSU Tigers could be No. 14-seed Yale’s unfortunate victim.