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Two seniors with everything to prove face off

Columbia and Yale have been held down for far too long. These two teams haven’t been to the NCAA tournament since the 60’s, but are now both 4-0 and will face off tonight at 5 p.m. in New Haven. The winner of the match will have the inside track to securing the Ivy League title, an opportunity Columbia hasn’t come close to in over twenty years.

Columbia comes into this match only a slight underdog, but the preseason projections can’t capture the totally different historical trajectories of these two teams. Columbia, historically, has not done well in men’s Ivy basketball. Since 1993-94, the Lions have only had one winning season. Even following a successful 2013-14 campaign (8-6), the Lions were unable to maintain their momentum due to injuries and an inability to close out games.  Yale, on the other hand, hasn’t had a losing season since 2009-10. Just like in the academic polls, Yale has consistently found itself a #3 to Harvard and Princeton throughout the 2010’s. Last season, the Bulldogs came within seconds of finally securing their first NCAA bid since 1962, but crumbled in the final seconds of their final two games. The Lions, if they continue their run this season, will look to earn their first spot in the tournament since 1968.

Both teams have a remarkable senior class which hasn’t been wholly together until this year. For the Lions, Maodo Lo leads the team in points, 3-pointers, minutes, and steals, as he has become the star of the team since his buzzer-beating shot against Valparaiso in the CIT two years ago. He temporarily dethroned Alex Rosenberg as the Lion in the spotlight when Rosenberg went down with a foot injury and missed last season, but now that Alex has a buzzer-beater of his own on the highlight reel, they’re both once again big men on campus. Grant Mullins is our resident sharpshooter, and Isaac Cohen, battling through some injuries, is the rebounding and assist machine through which the offense loves to run. Yale, meanwhile, has their own star in Justin Sears, a forward who’s dominated most Ivy squads for the last two years. Their seniors also include Jack Montague, a 3-point shooter who has a history of burning the Lions, and Brandon Sherrod, the Whiffenpoofs singer who’s hit 25 straight field goals.

If you want to watch this game, you’ve got a number of options. Fox Sports 1 (123-1 on Columbia cable) is broadcasting this game nationally at 5 p.m. If you don’t have your own TV, Athletics is hosting a viewing party in the Lou Gehrig Lounge (third floor of Dodge Fitness Center), and they’ll probably also have Dino BBQ.

The NCAA Tournament is the ultimate goal for a college basketball team. Both of these teams are too good not to put up a tremendous fight to keep their dreams alive against their rivals. You’re looking for a prediction? 76-69, Columbia.

Showdown in New Haven via Yale Bulldogs/Go Columbia Lions