Back in mid-December, many people believed Princeton’s season was over. Leading scorer and all-Ivy League player Henry Caruso was declared out for the season, and that followed a season-ending injury to big man Hans Brase. It also meant the Ivy League race was suddenly wide open.
The injuries had an immediate effect, as the Tigers lost three of five, but then they adjusted. They adjusted so well they’ve won eight in a row, including a critical 57-56 victory over Harvard Saturday night. They are 5-0 in the league and alone in first place, with a victory over one of the main contenders on the Crimson’s home court.
It’s time to reinstall Princeton as the Ivy League favorite. Harvard is talented and young, but this is the season for Princeton to finish ahead of the Crimson — because I don’t think it’s going to happen in the next three seasons. The Crimson’s talent has a chance to dominate the Ivy League.
Elsewhere in college basketball last week:
ELEVATOR GOING UP
Belmont: Rick Byrd, who coaches the Bruins, does an outstanding job. He has won 656 games over 31 years. This is one of his better seasons; the Bruins have won 13 in a row and are 11-0 in the OVC. They just registered a nice road win at Murray State.
Florida Gulf Coast: It may not be Dunk City anymore, but the Gulls are tough again in the Atlantic Sun. They’ve won five in a row and are 8-1 in the league and 19-6 overall.
Georgia State: Remember R.J. Hunter of the Celtics and his dad/coach Ron? Ron is still at Georgia State and doing another great job. His Panthers have won seven in a row to move into a first-place tie in the Sun Belt Conference with Arkansas State and Georgia Southern.
North Carolina Central: Sam Jones U has won seven straight and taken over first place in the MEAC. The Eagles are 15-6 overall.
Oregon: The Ducks obliterated Arizona, 85-58, Saturday and have now won 40 in a row at home, the longest win streak in the nation (after Kansas lost to Iowa State Saturday).
Syracuse: It’s always so much fun mocking Syracuse when things don’t go well. My fun is over. Jim Boeheim seems to have solved whatever was holding his team back. The Orange have won four in a row, but more importantly the last two victories were over Florida State and Virginia, two high-quality teams.
Weber State: Once again, the Wildcats are the team to beat in the Big Sky; they’ve won five in a row and 12 of 13. At 8-1, they’re securely in first place.
ESCALATOR GOING DOWN
UC Santa Barbara: A game at the Thunderdome used to be an event, with most of 5,600 seats filled and the Gauchos winning most of the time. The students would throw tortillas on the court when the Gauchos scored their first basket. But on Saturday, the Gauchos lost to Fullerton State in front of 857; they’ve lost six straight and 9 of 10. Some things just aren’t the same.
Duquesne: This is Jim Ferry’s fifth season, and it looks to be spiraling downward rapidly. The Dukes have lost seven straight and are 9-15 and 2-9 in the A10. Ferry is going down the same path followed many of his predecessors. Not sure anyone can make the Dukes a winner.
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack looked to be turning things around after winning at Duke, but it’s been all downhill since then, with consecutive losses to Louisville, Syracuse, and Miami (two of those at home). Freshman Dennis Smith Jr. has been tremendous, but this has been an incredibly disappointing season (14-10).
San Diego: It hasn’t been the worst season for the Toreros — they’re 11-13 — but Saturday night was one of the worst nights in school history, as they lost to Saint Mary’s, 71-27. That’s right, 27. The Toreros were 9 for 46 from the field, and six of those were 3-pointers. Do the math: THREE 2-point field goals in 40 minutes. Amazingly, they had only 11 turnovers, but they were outrebounded, 43-23. A night to forget.
Washington: Markelle Fultz is tremendous, maybe the best freshman in the country and a possible No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. He’s averaging 23.2 ppg, 5.5 apg, and 6.0 rpg. But his performance doesn’t elevate the team. The Huskies are 9-14 and will not make the tournament for the seventh straight season. Fultz will be replaced by another huge recruit next season, Michael Porter Jr. He, too, will probably not make a difference. Saturday’s 107-66 loss to UCLA was the worst in coach Lorenzo Romar’s 15 seasons.
THIS WEEK’S FINAL FOUR: Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, UCLA.
THIS WEEK’S NATIONAL CHAMPION: KansasJoe Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeSullivan