Yale tabbed as preseason Ivy League favorite for first time

Justin Sears, left, is the reigning Player of the Year in the Ivy League. (USATSI)

Ivy League hoops honks are like the most dedicated fan bases of the most cult-like underground bands. It’s a demographic of differentiation, devotion and playful elitism. This league is just different from every other one. And on Wednesday, the Ivy League announced its preseason predictions. Rather, the media poll attempting to forecast what’s to come in 2015-16. So here we have it, one of the closest preseason polls in the history of the conference — and for the first time, Yale is pegged as the favorite.

Yale, which hasn’t reached the NCAA Tournament since John F. Kennedy was President (1962), has been tabbed just barely ahead of Columbia and Princeton. It’s the first time in the history of the program/the media poll (31 years) this has happened, and in getting there, the Bulldogs were involved in one of the closest preseason races in Ivy history.

The Bulldogs tallied 117 total points, edging out Columbia’s 114 and Princeton’s 108. Columbia and Princeton actually had more first-place votes (six) than Yale’s five. Coming in fourth is Harvard.

Yale went 22-10 last season and suffered one of the most heartbreaking turn of events at the end of a game against Dartmouth. That loss led to a playoff, which Yale subsequently lost to Harvard. The Crimson danced; Yale didn’t even get invited to the NIT. Yale senior forward Justin Sears is the preseason Player of the Year — after putting up 14.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in winning the POY in the Ivy last March.

For Columbia, it’s just the second time in program history it’s been ranked this high in the preseason. The Lions haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1968. For Princeton, its last appearance came in 2011.

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