Under the Radar Game of the Day – Friday, January 30, 2015: Yale at Columbia

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Yale at Columbia, 8:00 PM Eastern, American Sports Network

At long last, the Ivy League moves into its regular season conference play tonight, being the last conference in the country to truly do so.  While almost every Ivy team has played two league games so far (other than Penn and Princeton who have only played one), those games are against their “travel partners”.  Beginning tonight, and lasting for six weeks, the Ivy begins its normal Friday-Saturday schedule of conference games.  Our UTR Game of the Day heads to New York City as the Columbia Lions host the Yale Bulldogs as the battle to see if anyone can dethrone Harvard (which already has one conference loss, at Dartmouth) begins.

Heading into the season, tonight’s two opponents appeared to be the most likely candidates to take a run at the Crimson.  Yale enters tonight’s game with a 13-6 overall record and a 2-0 mark in conference, having swept their games against Brown.  Yale most notably picked up a huge road victory at defending national champion Connecticut on December 5.  While have lost six games, one was a double overtime loss to in-state rival Quinnipiac, another was a double overtime loss at Vanderbilt, and they were competitive in losses at Providence and at Albany.  We can also certainly forgive the Bulldogs for their loss at “the people’s team”, NJIT — a game that yours truly attended.  Yale’s best player, Justin Sears, suffered an injury very early in that game and did not return.

Tonight, Yale takes on the Columbia Lions, who split their first two Ivy League games of the season with Cornell.  The Lions are 9-7 overall without any wins of true note.  They also have a couple of bad losses, including the Cornell game and a loss at home to Loyola-Maryland.  Columbia did take on the same UConn team that Yale beat, but lost that game by 15 points.  Perhaps the best game the Lions played all season was a 56-46 loss at Kentucky — a game that the Lions hung around in, perhaps mostly because UK seemed to sleepwalk through the first 30+ minutes of it.  If the Lions are going to take a shot at contending with Harvard this season, they will need a win at home tonight over Yale, and may need to win their return trip to Yale later this season as well.  If either of these teams can actually dethrone the Crimson and capture the Ivy League’s automatic bid, it would break one of the longer NCAA tournament droughts in existence.  Columbia has not been in the field since 1968, while Yale has danced since 1962.

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