Men's Basketball Gears Up For No. 1

PHILADELPHIA - In order to be the best, you need to beat the best -- or, in the case of Penn, if you want to be the best (in the Ivy League) it helps to start by playing the best. That is the case today, as the Quakers meet the preseason No. 1 team in the country, North Carolina, on the Tar Heels’ home court.

Saturday, Nov. 15 • 4 p.m.
Dean E. Smith Center • Chapel Hill, N.C.
Fox Sports South/NESN (Bob Rathbun, Mike Gminski)
RADIO: WXPN 88.5 FM (Brian Seltzer, Vince Curran)

Penn Game Notes

UNC Game Notes

Penn vs. Number 1
Matching up with the top team in the nation is becoming old hat for Penn men’s basketball -- Saturday’s game marks the third time in four years it has happened. Last year, of course, UNC came to The Palestra in Philadelphia to face the Quakers, the first time Penn had hosted an AP No. 1 team. The Tar Heels rolled, 106-71. On Dec. 7, 2005, Penn faced a No. 1-ranked Duke team in Durham and lost to the Blue Devils, 72-59. Prior to that Duke game, Penn had faced the nation’s top-ranked team just once -- on Jan. 14, 1995, the Quakers were crushed by No. 1 Massachusetts, 93-60, in Amherst, Mass.

The Quickies on the Quakers...
• Penn returns four starters and 12 letterwinners from a team that finished 13-18 overall and went 8-6 to finish third in the Ivy League last season -- this, despite having by far the youngest and most inexperienced lineup in the conference.

• Penn lost last year’s leading scorer and rebounder, Brian Grandieri, to graduation; the Quakers return the next six leading scorers after that.

• Penn’s leading returning scorer is Tyler Bernardini (12.9 ppg), who was the Ivy League and Philadelphia Big 5 Rookie of the Year last season (his Big 5 honor was a first for a Penn player; the honor has been given every year since 1999). Last year, Bernardini scored more points than any other freshman in Penn men’s basketball history. UNC coach Roy Williams probably remembers Bernardini, since he dropped 26 in last year’s meeting at The Palestra.

• Sophomore Jack Eggleston started 29 games last year, second on the team. He averaged 8.0 points and 4.2 rebounds per contest, good for third and second on the squad, respectively.

• Sophomore guard Harrison Gaines led Penn with 98 assists last season and led the Ivy League with a 1.78 assist/turnover ratio. He averaged 6.7 points per contest.

• Penn has 10 players on its roster who started at least one game last year; 10 who had at least one double-figure scoring game a year ago; and three players who had a 20-point outing.

Penn vs. UNC
• Saturday’s game marks the third straight year the Quakers and the Tar Heels have met, with UNC dominating the first two (102-64 on Jan. 3, 2007 in Chapel Hill; 106-71 on Dec. 4, 2007 in Philadelphia).

• Overall, these two programs have met seven times, with Carolina holding a 5-2 lead.

• Four of the previous meetings have been neutral-site affairs. Saturday marks Penn’s second visit to Chapel Hill in three years, and UNC has come to Philadelphia twice (in 1948 and last year).

• Penn and UNC met three teams between 1952 and 2007, and all of them were NCAA Tournament contests.

Did You Know...
Saturday’s game features the programs that entered this season second and eighth on the list of winningest programs among NCAA Division I members. UNC is second with 1,950 wins, and Penn is eighth with 1,647 (one ahead of UCLA and 12 ahead of Indiana).

They Still Remember...
Plenty of Carolina fans still remember “Black Sunday” -- March 11, 1979. On that day, at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, Penn knocked off the East’s No. 1 seed (UNC) and St. John’s beat the No. 2 seed (Duke) in the following game. Penn, of course, parlayed its win into a Final Four run, joining Magic Johnson’s Michigan State squad and Larry Bird’s Indiana State team in Salt Lake City, Utah (the Quakers were rolled in the semis by Michigan State). Penn’s win that day remains the only time UNC has lost an NCAA Tournament game in the state of North Carolina.

The National Stage
Penn is certainly making a splash with its first two games this season. The Quakers open this weekendwith the No. 1 team in the country, of course. But on Tuesday, Penn will play neighborhood rival Drexel -- the distance from Penn’s Palestra to Drexel’s Daskalakis Center: 0.52 miles -- and the game will be played at 10 a.m. as part of ESPN’s “Hoops Madness,” a 25-hour smorgasbord of games and insight throughout the ESPN family of networks. The Quakers and Dragons will tip off on ESPN.

Penn Picked Second
Penn was picked second in the Ivy League’s preseason media poll, which featured two members from all eight institutional media polls. The Quakers were picked behind Cornell, the defending champion -- the Big Red were a unanimous selection to repeat, as all five starters are back from last year’s team that went 14-0 in conference play.
TeamPoints (First-Place Votes)
Cornell128 (16)

Ivy Dominance
Penn boasts 25 Ivy League championships in men’s basketball -- tied with Princeton for the conference lead -- including three of the last four, five of the last seven, seven of the last 10, and 11 since 1993.

Then There Was Last Year...
When Cornell won last year’s Ivy title, it marked a sea change for the league. After all, Penn or Princeton had won every title before that going all the way back to 1988. It also marked just the third time since 1962 a team won the title without at least sharing it with Penn or Princeton.

Download: 0809 Gm01 (@UNC).pdf