Riding their first five-game winning streak and 2-0 Ivy League start since the 2001-’02 season, the Bulldogs have a full weekend of conference competition for the first time this season.
The Elis (7-9, 2-0 Ivy) make their final trip to the Empire State when they travel to Manhattan on Friday to square off against Columbia (5-11, 0-3) and head upstate to Ithaca to battle preseason conference favorite Cornell (12-6, 2-0) on Saturday night.
Yale began its winning streak with wins over MIT (13-5), NJIT (1-20) and Hartford (6-16) after suffering through a five-game losing streak beginning over winter break.
The Elis are coming off consecutive Friday victories over Brown (6-10, 0-2) in a home-and-home series to begin their conference schedule.
In last Friday’s win over Brown in front of a packed John J. Lee Amphitheater crowd, the Bulldogs pulled out the Bear sweep in a defensive struggle, 57-55.
In the victory, captain Ross Morin ’09 led the Elis with a double-double, dropping 20 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bulldogs’ two opponents this weekend have already battled between themselves the last two weekends.
Columbia heads into the contest Friday having lost its first two conference games against in-state rival Cornell, each by similar scoring margins. The Big Red upended the Lions 71-59 on Jan. 17 and 83-71 last Saturday night.
For the season, Columbia is led by point guard Patrick Foley, who missed seven games due to a foot injury before returning to action in the second matchup versus the Big Red. In the nine games the graduate of high school basketball powerhouse St. Anthony’s has seen action, he has averaged 12.1 points per game.
Junior Niko Scott is second on the team in scoring (9.3 ppg) and senior forward Jason Miller leads the team in rebounding (6.7 rpg).
Cornell, the defending Ivy League champions and preseason favorites to capture the crown this season, have won 17 Ivy League and 15 home contests in a row.
With games this season against the likes of St. John’s, Siena, Syracuse, Minnesota and St. Joseph’s (Pa.), the Big Red hope a stiff schedule has prepared them for another run to the NCAA tournament.
Cornell, currently on a seven-game winning steak, will host Brown on Friday night before Yale heads upstate the next day.
The Big Red is led by the conference’s leading scorer, Ryan Wittman, son of former Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Randy Wittman. The guard is averaging 19.6 ppg and is followed by the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, Louis Dale, who averages 14.4 ppg.
Dale has seen action in just 10 games due to a hamstring injury but looks to be back to full strength.
Jeff Foote and Geoff Reeves round out the quartet of Cornell’s double-digit scorers, averaging 12.2 ppg and 10.6 ppg, respectively.