• The #RoadToIvyMadness begins this weekend for Columbia as they open up conference play on the road against defending Ivy League Champions, Princeton, Friday, and the very early first-place Penn Quakers Saturday.
• The Lions come into the weekend winners of two straight after dispatching Sarah Lawrence, 87-42, to ring in 2018.
• Princeton and Penn kicked off the Ivy League schedule last Saturday with the Quakers claiming a 76-70 victory at the Palestra.
• The Tigers have won seven-straight games against Columbia and lead the all-time series 152-80.
• The Lions and Quakers split the two regular-season meetings last year with each team holding serve at home. Penn is 140-91 against Columbia.
COLUMBIA ALUMNI ASSOCIATION RECEPTION AT PENN
Alumni, family, and friends of all ages are invited to enjoy refreshments and game fare from 5-7 p.m. in the Class of '71 Room in the Palestra between the women's and men's games. Members of the basketball staffs will be present. Tickets include admission to both games. For more information or to register, click here.
SUITS & SNEAKERS
The Columbia coaching staff is participating in the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits & Sneakers Weekend Friday night at Princeton, a nationwide event to raise awareness about the American Cancer Society. Coaches wear sneakers with their suits as a reminder about the importance of nutrition and physical activity in reducing cancer risk. Coach Engles and staff will also be donning Princess Lacy’s Gold Laces in support of avid basketball fan, Lacey Holsworth, who lost her battle with pediatric cancer in 2014.
COACHES VS. CANCER 3-POINT CHALLENGE
Columbia is also participating in the 3-Point Challenge for the second consecutive year. With this initiative by the American Cancer Society and the NABC, fans can pledge a dollar amount for every 3-pointer Columbia makes during the month of February or make a one-time donation. All funds will benefit the American Cancer Society. To donate, click here.
Since knocking off USC, 103-93 in overtime, in Los Angeles, the Tigers are 2-2. Princeton is shooting a league-best 39.0 percent from 3-point range, led by Devin Cannady (43.1 percent). Cannady checks in averaging 18.5 points and Myles Stephens leads the squad in rebounding (6.3 RPG).
The Quakers, winners of five of their last six heading into Friday night's game against Cornell, are doing it on both ends of the floor. Penn leads the Ancient Eight in scoring (79.2 PPG) and holding opponents to 42.2 percent shooting from the floor. The reigning Ivy League Player of the Week Ryan Betley leads the Quakers averaging 15.2 points and 5.1 rebounds. In the frontcourt, AJ Brodeur (10.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG) and Max Rothschild (9.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG) are each capable of notching double-doubles.
COLUMBIA IN IVY LEAGUE OPENERS
The Lions are 30-31 all-time in Ivy League openers, including last season’s 67-62 triumph at Cornell. This is the first time Columbia has began conference play with an opponent other than the Big Red since 2012 when it hosted Penn and Princeton. This weekend will be the first time since 2010 that the Lions begin the Ivy League slate at the "Killer P's." Columbia is 13-21 all-time when beginning Ancient Eight play on the road but have won the last four Ivy League away, all coming in Ithaca, going back to 2011.
RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR IN STYLE
Columbia went on a program-record 44-1 run and turned an 8-6 deficit into a 49-9 halftime lead over Sarah Lawrence on Jan. 6 as they coasted to victory to wrap up non-conference play. Peter Barba and Kyle Castlin each posted 16 points to lead the Lions. Columbia's bench scored 60 points and have beaten its last three Division III opponents (Kean, Manhattanville, Sarah Lawrence) by the exact same margin (45 points).
AGENT “0” BACK AGAIN
After missing all of the 2016-17
Columbia has posted 34 blocks (5.6 per game) in its last six contests and now lead the Ancient Eight, posting 3.9 per contest. The Lions' 10 blocks against Stony Brook on Dec. 7 was the most for the program since Nov. 13, 2015, against Kean (10). It was the most against a Division I opponent since the Lions recorded 10 against Brown on Feb. 15, 2002. Jaron Faulds is third in the Ivy League, averaging 1.5 per contest.
The Lions have also been more active in creating turnovers in the past five games, averaging 8.0 steals.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Columbia has had 11 different players record double-figures in points this season. Only three teams in the country have more than the Lions (12: Texas San-Antonio, Texas State - 13: Savannah State).
The Lions lead the Ivy League in 3-point makes (10.6) and are second in 3-point field goal percentage (.372). The Lions' made trifectas per game also put them in the 18th nationally. Columbia has knocked down at least 10 treys in 11 of its 13 contests. Earlier this season, the Lions tied a school record with 16 made 3-pointers in their win over Longwood on Nov. 14. Columbia previously accomplished the feat against Brown (Feb. 10, 2012) and Kean (Nov. 13, 2015).
After a summer training with NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler, sophomore point guard Mike Smith has started off 2017-18 strong, averaging 18.1 points - good for fourth in the Ivy League - leads the Ancient Eight in assists (4.8) and assist/turnover ratio (2.3) and is third in steals (1.5). Smith has recorded five or more assists in his last five games against DI opponents and tied career-highs with eight against Stony Brook and Maine. The Burr Ridge, Illinois, established a personal-best in scoring for the second time this season with 28 points against Navy. Smith scored 368 points, a Columbia record for a first-year in 2016-17.
Lukas Meisner is having breakout junior campaign, averaging 11.3 points on 53.8-percent shooting from the field and a 46.2 clip from 3-point range. Meisner is tied for the Ancient Eight lead, posting 6.9 rebounds per game and has two double-doubles, which is second in the conference. The Braunschweig, Germany, product set career-highs in scoring in three-straight from Nov. 17-29, including a 25-point, 11-rebound effort at UConn. At Longwood, Meisner posted 16 rebounds, which was the most for a Lion since Mark Cisco '13CC pulled down 20 rebounds against Cornell on Jan. 21, 2012.
Columbia's five of its last seven losses have come by five points or less. The Lions battled back from 22-points down to come within three against Colgate, took UConn to overtime and was tied with UAlbany with under a minute left before a four-point decision, all on the road. Navy rallied from 18 points down in the first half to secure a five-point decision. Columbia's nine-game losing streak was the longest for the program since dropping 10 in a row to wrap up the 2004-05 season.
The Ivy League men’s and women’s basketball tournaments return to Philadelphia, March 10-11, 2018. The top four teams will earn berths to the tournament, with the semifinals on Saturday and the championships on Sunday. All six games will be broadcast live on ESPN’s networks. For tickets and more information please visit IvyMadness.com.