The Big Green Weekend Primer

by Blaze Joel and Brett Drucker | 3/5/15 6:15pm

03.06.15.sports.mens-basketball_Weijia-Tang
The men’s basketball team has a chance to go .500 on the season with two home games this weekend.
Source: WEIJIA TANG/THE DARTMOUTH STAFF

While Wednesday’s warm weather might have been a tease, this weekend will see two more winter teams finish their seasons, and another begins its journey into the postseason.

The men’s hockey team should provide thrilling action as the Big Green looks to repeat last weekend’s victory over an undoubtedly terrified Princeton University squad, and the men’s and women’s basketball teams will look to keep season-ending win streaks alive.

With many spring teams enjoying the weekend across the eastern seaboard from South Carolina to Florida, this week we’ll take one last glance at the winter teams looking to welcome thoughts of spring with wins.

Men’s Hockey vs. Princeton University, Best two of three (Friday, Saturday, 7 p.m., Sunday if series tied at 1-1))

The men’s hockey team enters its first round matchup with Princeton University this weekend on fire. The Big Green has won nine of its last 11 contests, including two 3-1 victories over the Tigers and league-leading Quinnipiac University last weekend.

Thanks to that performance, the Big Green secured the fifth seed in the ECAC and the honor of hosting a home playoff series in the first round. The men have come on strong over the second half of the season, thanks in large part to the offensive prowess of Eric Neiley ’15 and Brandon McNally ’15, who were named ECACPlayer of the Month and Week, respectively, in February.

Goalie James Kruger ’16 also earned Goaltender of the Week honors for making 52 saves across the two games last weekend, as well as a pair of scoreless third periods. Last weekend, the Big Green handled Princeton in a wild atmosphere at Thompson Arena, scoring two early goals to take a commanding lead that was too much for the Tigers to dig out from.

The team’s timely scoring — including a power-play tally from Grant Opperman '17 with less than two seconds to go in the second period — established the Big Green as the heavy favorite in this weekend’s matchup. Even without the tennis balls, expect Dartmouth to roll on to the second round, knocking off the league’s cellar dwellers.

Prediction: Dartmouth wins series 2-0

Men’s Basketball vs. Brown University (Friday 7 p.m.)

Much like the men’s hockey team, the men’s basketball squad has been on a streak lately, coming off three consecutive Ivy wins. If the Big Green wins both of its games this weekend, it will finish its regular season 14-14 overall and 7-7 in the Ivy League, a record which would make it eligible for the 2015 Division I NCAA Tournament.

Friday night, the men will welcome Brown University to Leede Arena hoping to avenge a 67-64 loss in Providence, Rhode Island, in early February. In the last matchup, Brown took control in the second half, going up by as much as nine points. Despite a game-leading 21 points from guard Miles Wright ’18, the Big Green never managed to lead in the second.

The Bears have been playing .500 basketball over the past four games, while Dartmouth has gone 3-1 against the same opponents the last two weekends. Last weekend, the Big Green showed they could play any type of game, scoring 84 points at Columbia University on Friday and holding Cornell University to 45 points in a defensive contest the next night. Guard Malik Gill ’16 earned Ivy League Co-Player of the Week honors for his contributions in both games, totaling 28 points and 10 assists coming off the bench in the two games.

With the Big Green streaking and a last opportunity to play on their own floor, the men should pull out a close one to break out of a three-way tie for fourth in the Ivy League.

Prediction: Dartmouth 65 - Brown 62

Women’s Basketball at Brown University (Friday 7 p.m.)

Rounding out a trio of Dartmouth teams trying to finish the season with multi-week win streaks intact, the women’s basketball team heads on the road for its last action of the season after winning its final two home contests last week against Columbia and Cornell Universities.

Just like the men’s team, the Dartmouth women lost a three-point game to Brown earlier in the season, falling 50-47 in Hanover. The Big Green have struggled at times to get points on the board this season — averaging a league-low 56.3 points per contest — despite the contributions of the Ivy League’s leading scorer, guard Fanni Szabo ’17, who averages 16.9 points per game.

If the Big Green can play strong defense like last weekend when they allowed only 35 points to Cornell, they should be able to open space for the offense that has relied on the long-ball with three of the top 11 three-point shooters in the league.

Despite taking early leads the last time these two teams met, Brown was able to pull away in the second half and hold off for the lead, painting this game as a classic contest of will and desire.

There’s nothing the Big Green would like more than to end with another win, and if they play their best game, they should have a good chance against the Bears.

Prediction: Dartmouth 53 - Brown 48

Correction appended (March 7, 2015):

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that McNally and Neiley were Ivy League Players of the Week and Month, respectively. McNally and Neiley were ECAC Players of the Week and Month. The article also incorrectly stated that McNally scored in the last two seconds of the second period against Princetonwhen it should have said Opperman. The Dartmouth regrets these errors.