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Ivy League Final Preview: Will Princeton clinch its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2017?

The Tigers look to take the rubber match as Princeton and Yale split the regular season series

NCAA Basketball: Princeton at Indiana
Jaelin Llewellyn averaged 15.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game this season.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Ivy League will crown a conference tournament champion for the first time in over three years on Sunday when Yale and Princeton battle for an NCAA Tournament bid. The 2020 Ivy League Tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while the Ivy League cancelled all sports during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Since the Ivy League first hosted a tournament in 2017, Yale and Princeton have won two of the three tournament titles. The winner will cement itself as the leader in Ivy League Tournament championships.

The Princeton Tigers (23-5, 12-2 Ivy League) head into the title game as the favorites to reach their first NCAA Tournament since 2017. The Tigers’ two Ivy League losses came in back-to-back contests, losing to Yale and Cornell before starting their month long win streak.

Ivy League Player of the Year Tosan Evbuomwan powered the Tigers, averaging 15.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. Evbuomwan’s five assists per contest rank first in the Ivy League.

Ethan Wright earned a spot on the Second Team All-Ivy, pouring in 14.6 points per game and hauling in seven rebounds per contest. Jaelin Llewellyn aided the Tigers’ efforts, tallying 15.7 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per contest.

The Tigers claimed their spot in the Ivy League title game in the form of a 77-73 victory over Cornell. After a 5-point halftime lead was erased, Tosan Evbuomwan’s layup with 1:36 remaining gave Princeton the lead for good.

Evbuomwan stuffed the stat sheet, recording 21 points, six rebounds, and six assists.

Jaelin Llewellyn added in 23 points and four rebounds, while Ethan Wright tallied 12 points and six rebounds.

The three-headed monster for Princeton continued their dominance against Ivy League opponents.

The Yale Bulldogs (18-11, 11-3 Ivy League) defeated Pennsylvania 67-61, clinching their second consecutive birth in the Ivy League title game.

First Team All-Ivy selection Azar Swain scored 25 points, his 14th game with 20 or more points this season. Matt Knowling added in 10 points and four rebounds, while Jalen Gabbidon tallied nine points and seven rebounds.

Swain powered the Bulldogs’ offense in the regular season, averaging 18.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per contest.

Gabiddon joined Swain in earning all-conference honors, claiming a spot on the Second Team All-Ivy. The Harrisburg, Penn., native recorded 11.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.

The Tigers and Bulldogs split the season series, with each team winning on the road.

Yale defeated the Tigers in the first matchup in January 80-74. Princeton returned the favor three weeks later, defeating the Bulldogs on their home court 81-75.

As the two teams meet for the rubber match with a bid to the Big Dance on the line, expect another back-and-forth close matchup.

How to watch

Matchup: No. 1 Princeton vs No. 2 Yale

When: Sunday, noon ET

Where: Lavietes Pavilion, Cambridge, Mass.

TV: ESPN2/ESPN+

DraftKings Line: Princeton -3, O/U 142.5

Prediction

Princeton enters the title game on an eight-game winning streak. After avenging their regular season loss to Cornell, the Tigers will look to do the same with Yale. The Bulldogs will look to replicate their earlier season victory in Princeton, but Evbuomwan will prove why he was chosen as the Ivy League’s Player of the Year. After a back-and-forth contest, the Tigers will pull ahead late, clinching an NCAA Tournament birth with an 82-76 victory.