Introducing Cinderella: Penn is back in the dance for the first time since 2007
Coach: Steve Donahue
Record: 24-8, 12-2 (t-1st)
Rankings and Ratings:
– Kenpom: 127
– RPI: 115
– AP/USA TODAY: Not ranked
Seeding: The Ivy League has, generally speaking, been one of the strongest mid-major conferences in the country in recent years. It is not this season, as Princeton found themselves in a rebuilding year while Yale dealt with injuries all season long. Penn has the look of a team that is going to end up on the No. 15 seed line.
Names you need to know: Ryan Betley is Penn’s leading scorer, but the best player on the Quakers is probably A.J. Brodeur, a 6-foot-7 forward that Donahue began recruiting when he was the head coach at Boston College.
Stats you need to know: When Donahue was at Cornell, the Quakers were one of college basketball’s most efficient offenses. And while they have been a top two offense in the Ivy League this season, this year’s team is built around their defense. Penn is a top 75 team nationally in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric.
Big wins, bad losses: Penn has a couple of non-conference wins that will sound better than they ended up being this season. They picked off Monmouth in a game that went four overtimes, they beat Dayton in Dayton and they knocked off St. Joseph’s in a Big 5 game.
How’d they get here?: Penn looked like they were going to cruise into the Ivy League regular season title but, on the final weekend of the regular season, they lost at Yale and fell to the No. 2 seed in the Ivy League tournament. But since the event was held at the Palestra -- Penn’s home court -- they were able to pick off Harvard in the title game by three.
Outlook: I don’t expect too much out of Penn this year, but there is precedent here to talk about. The last time Donahue was in the NCAA tournament with Cornell in 2010, they reached the Sweet 16. In the seven seasons since then, the Ivy League has won three NCAA tournament first round games and three of their four losses came by just two points. The “worst” first round loss the Ivy League has suffered in that span was a nine point loss that No. 12 seed Harvard took against Vanderbilt in 2012
How do I know you?: It’s been 11 years since Penn returned to Ivy League glory, but they are back in the NCAA tournament. From 1993-2007, Penn reached the NCAA tournament 11 times.