Penn vs. Brown: Quakers vie for key homecoming victory


Penn vs. Brown: Quakers vie for key homecoming victory

Penn (4-2, 3-0 Ivy League) vs. Brown (2-4, 1-2 Ivy League)
Franklin Field, Philadelphia
Saturday, 1 p.m.

It’s homecoming at Penn, and the Quakers will look to stay perfect in the Ivy League in front of all the alumni returning to Franklin Field. Here’s a look at the matchup:

Scouting Penn
The Quakers were clicking on all cylinders last week, showcasing their electric offensive trio of QB Alek Torgersen, WR Justin Watson and RB Tre Solomon perfectly in a 42-7 road rout of Yale — their fourth straight win. Torgersen found Watson for nine catches, a career-high 160 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, leading to the star wide receiver being named Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week. Solomon, meanwhile, finished with 120 rushing yards and a touchdown, remaining the league’s rushing leader by a hefty amount. And Penn’s defense enjoyed its best performance of the season, holding Yale to 229 yards while forcing a pair of turnovers. 

Scouting Brown
The Bears snapped a four-game losing skid with a 28-21 overtime win over Cornell last week, riding three touchdowns from All-Ivy receiver Alexander Jette and the game-winning rushing TD from Johnny Peta. Jette ranks second in the Ivies in receptions per game (behind only Watson) and third in receiving yards per game. As a team, though, Brown is only averaging 310.2 yards per game, second-to-last in the Ivies. But the Bears’ defense, led by Ivy tackling leader Will Twyman, is tops in the league, allowing an average of 306.7 yards per contest, including a league-best 189.7 yards through the air.

Series history
Penn holds a 58-24-2 advantage, including a 40-10-1 mark at Franklin Field dating back to a 12-0 win in the stadium in 1895. But the Bears are 6-4 vs. the Quakers in the last 10 matchups, beating them in back-to-back seasons in 2013 and 2014 before Penn picked up a 48-28 win last year.

Storyline to watch
The Quakers should have the advantage in this one but, as always, playing in front of a homecoming crowd adds an interesting dynamic. This year’s homecoming has an especially cool storyline as Penn’s 1986 team will be honored on occasion of its 30-year anniversary. One of the best teams in the program’s long and illustrious history, that ’86 squad was the first in the Ivy League era (1956 to present) to finish 10-0 with one of those wins coming against Division I-A Navy. 

What’s at stake?
The only two teams sitting at 3-0 in the Ivy League, Penn and Harvard are careening toward a title showdown in two weeks at Franklin Field. But before that, the Quakers need to beat Brown and then take out another title contender in Princeton next week. 

The Bears’ pass defense is good but, like other Ivy teams, they’re not going to find an answer to Torgersen and Watson.

Penn 31, Brown 14

Villanova, Penn with polar opposite NCAA Tournament draws

Villanova, Penn with polar opposite NCAA Tournament draws

No surprises on the Main Line and well, the Quakers have quite the hill to climb to advance.

Villanova on Sunday night was awarded the 1-seed in the East Region and will face the winner of the LIU Brooklyn/Radford game Thursday in Pittsburgh. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:50 p.m. on TNT.

The Wildcats have been a top-two seed since 2014 and it's the second straight year they're a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova was the No. 1 overall seed in last year's tournament.

Penn was named the 16th seed in the Midwest Region and will face the No. 1-seeded Kansas Jayhawks on Thursday at 2 p.m. on TBS in Wichita, Kansas.

Steve Donahue has the Quakers back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007 in his third season as Penn's head coach.

The Quakers are 24-8 and this will be their 24th-ever appearance in the tournament.

'Nova survived a scare from Providence on Saturday night to win its second straight Big East title and its third in the past four years.

If the Wildcats beat LIU Brooklyn/Radford, they'll face the winner of the No. 8-seeded Virginia Tech and No. 9 seed Alabama. Purdue is the No. 2 seed in the East.

Also in the East are No. 3 Texas Tech and No. 4 Wichita State.

Penn aims to end 11-year drought this weekend

USA Today Images

Penn aims to end 11-year drought this weekend

NBC Sports Philadelphia anchor/reporter Amy Fadool and senior producer Sean Kane get you set for all the weekend's local college basketball games with Fastbreak Friday. With the regular season ending this weekend, this will be the final Fastbreak Friday column of the season.

Temple (16-13, 8-9 AAC) at Tulsa (18-11, 11-6 AAC), Sunday at 3 p.m.
 It’s been a rough season for the Temple Owls. Yes, there was that win over ranked Wichita State in the middle of a 5-game win streak. But after the stumbles down the stretch, that seems like a distant memory. 

Of course, the bad can be washed away with an AAC tournament run, but first, the Owls need to close out on the road against Tulsa. 

Given their track record on the road, things don’t line up well for Fran Dunphy’s crew. Plus, it’s dollar dog, dollar soda and dollar popcorn night at Tulsa. That’s a delicious trifecta. 

But there is still some fight in this team. Quintin Rose and Shizz Alston have been everything the Owls have needed, and throw in Nate Pierre-Louis and you have a nice core back for next season.

Temple 71,  Tulsa 70

Pennsylvania (21-7, 11-1 Ivy) at Yale (14-14, 7-5 Ivy), Friday at 7 p.m.
Pennsylvania (21-7, 11-1 Ivy) at Brown (11-14, 4-8 Ivy), Saturday at 6 p.m.
Penn enters the final weekend of the regular season in control of its own destiny. If the Quakers beat Yale and Brown on the road they'll win their first Ivy League championship since 2007 and earn the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, which will be played at the Palestra next weekend. It all adds up to Penn having the inside track to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 11 years.

This seems like an appropriate time to salute the job done by head coach Steve Donahue. In just his third season at Penn, he has the Quakers poised to reclaim top billing in the Ivy League. He inherited a team that finished 9-19 in the 2014-2015 season and promptly began a swift rebuilding project. Penn went 11-17 in Donahue's first season, 13-14 in his second year, and now stand at 21-7 overall and 11-1 in conference play. Look for those winning ways to continue this weekend and for Donahue and company to do some celebrating.

Penn 73, Yale 66
Penn 69, Brown 60

La Salle (13-17, 7-10 A-10) at St. Joseph's (14-15, 9-8 A-10), Saturday at 2 p.m.
La Salle and St. Joe's will each try to keep the good times rolling heading into next week's A-10 Tournament. La Salle has won three of its last four games, including a convincing 18-point win over Dayton earlier this week. St. Joseph's meanwhile has a 5-1 record in its last six games and just recorded arguably one of the most stunning victories of this college basketball season.

The Hawks went on the road and beat No. 18 Rhode Island, 78-48, on Tuesday, spoiling the Rams' senior night in the process. It was the first road win over a ranked team for St. Joseph's since 1979 and it came in shockingly easy fashion. I expect the Hawks to build on that momentum this weekend and avenge a three-point loss to La Salle earlier this season.

St. Joseph's 74, La Salle 68 

Drexel (12-19, 6-12 CAA) at James Madison (10-21, 6-12 CAA), Saturday at 4 p.m. in first round of CAA Tournament
The Dragons' season has been marked with highs and lows. While it may seem like a marginal improvement — with 12 wins to their credit compared to nine last season — they did double their conference win total. 

Also, Drexel beat the top two teams in the CAA this season as well as set an NCAA Division-I record for the largest comeback ever when they erased a 34-point deficit against Delaware. 

But the Dragons did have two separate losing streaks that would cause any coach to lose sleep, one of five straight and the other of four straight losses. 

Drexel begins the quest for its first-ever CAA tournament title against JMU, then Charleston awaits on basically home turf. Go ahead and make it a baker’s dozen, Dragons. 

Drexel 76, JMU 74

Prediction Records
Sean Kane: 30-11
Amy Fadool: 22-21