As the regular season of Ivy League basketball comes to a close, the focus now turns to the upcoming Ivy Madness tournament.
The Ivy League is unique in that only half of the league’s eight teams qualify for the conference tournament. That makes their 14-game regular season incredibly intriguing. The shorter conference season and exclusive conference tournament make every game extremely important.
On Saturday, there are several clinching scenarios that could play out. We take a closer look at the various clinching scenarios and preview the final weekend’s games.
Penn (9-4 Ivy) at Princeton (9-4 Ivy), noon ET
Columbia (2-11) at Cornell (6-7), 2:00 p.m. ET
Harvard (5-8) at Dartmouth (5-8), 2:00 p.m. ET
Yale (9-4) at Brown (7-6), 7:30 p.m. ET
Harvard, Dartmouth and Columbia have already been eliminated, and they’re not involved in any tiebreakers for seeding of the top 4, so the game between Harvard and Dartmouth will not affect Ivy Madness at all.
Yale holds the tiebreaker over both Penn and Princeton due to its sweep over Princeton. The Bulldogs split with the Quakers, so the next tiebreaker would be their record against the Tigers. Princeton already beat Penn, so Penn cannot sweep Princeton.
Cornell and Brown split their two games. In the event of a tie between those two teams, it would go to the second tiebreaker. Regardless of what happens in the Princeton-Penn game, Cornell would hold the tiebreaker over Brown.
So, here are the final scenarios for the weekend.
If Yale beats Brown, Yale automatically gets the No. 1 seed, the Princeton-Penn winner automatically gets the two seed (with the loser getting the three seed), and Cornell gets the No. 4 seed with a win over Columbia.
If Brown beats Yale, Brown is automatically in as the four seed. The winner of Princeton-Penn gets the one seed. Yale is two, and the Princeton-Penn loser gets the three.
If Cornell loses to Columbia, Cornell is automatically eliminated, and Brown will get the No. 4 seed regardless of their result against Yale.
What to watch for in each of the games of importance
Penn vs. Princeton: Penn is the hottest team in the Ivy League, having won seven Ivy League games in a row since their disappointing 2-4 start. Back on Jan. 16 at the Palestra, Princeton held Penn to 0-for-12 from 3-point range.
Since that day, Jordan Dingle is shooting 44% from deep on eight attempts per game. Dingle is one of college basketball’s very best scorers, and he’s the engine behind this Penn offense. He led the team in scoring 20 times.
Penn needs Clark Slajchert to play like he did in the early part of the season if they want to win the Ivy League Tournament. They can win one game without a big scoring performance from him, but it’s hard to win multiple games against good teams without his scoring output.
Princeton’s two starting guards are both 6-feet-4-inches, giving them a size advantage over Penn’s backcourt. Thanks in part to their talented guards, as well as the extreme versatility of star big man Tosan Evbuomwan, Princeton has shown the ability to win games in a variety of different ways throughout the season.
The Tigers sped up against Brown, Cornell and Dartmouth to pick up wins, but on their trip to Cambridge last weekend, they beat Harvard with just 59 possessions.
Cornell vs Columbia: Cornell shouldn’t have much trouble with Columbia, who is very clearly the worst team that the Ivy League has to offer. The Lions have won just one of their last 12 games, and when the Big Red traveled to NYC, they dropped 100 points in a blowout win.
However, Cornell is currently playing some of their worst basketball of the season and needs to rectify the situation in order to punch their bid to Jadwin. The Big Red are in the midst of a shooting slump. Since Jan. 28, they shot better than 31% from 3-point land just once. That’s a tough look for a team that was previously one of the best shooting teams in all of college basketball.
Cornell can get scoring from a variety of different sources. Six players are averaging between 8.7 and 13.3 PPG, but they’ve struggled for explosive performances recently. Cornell hasn’t had a player above 15 points in three of their last four games. With the second-to-worst defense in the Ivy League, they can’t win games when they don’t get high-level scoring.
Whether it’s Greg Dolan, Chris Manon, Nazir Williams or anybody else, the Big Red need somebody to step up, even if only to beat lowly Columbia.
Brown vs Yale: The last time Brown played Yale, the Bulldogs had 14 offensive rebounds and attempted 28 free throws. The final margin? Yale won by 3 points. Both Yale and Brown are elite defensive rebounding teams, so it’s a surprise that the Bears got annihilated on that end. Neither Yale nor Brown are great free-throw shooting teams, but if you give them enough opportunities, it will hurt you.
Matt Knowling didn’t play in Yale’s last two games, but he’s expected to return on Saturday with the top seed on the line. In his absence, Yale got 30-point performances out of John Poulakidas and EJ Jarvis in victories over Princeton and Cornell.
For Brown, Kino Lilly and Paxson Wojcik have been scoring in bunches down the stretch run of the season, helping elevate the rest of the Bears’ offense. While Brown would rather this game be played at a fast pace, Yale usually likes to slow down the tempo, making for an interesting clash. Yale slowed Cornell down to 66 possessions last Saturday, and if they’re as effective on the interior on Saturday as they were in that game, they should be able to defeat Brown.
We’ll have a full preview of the Ivy League Tournament once the bracket is set, and we’ll have on-site coverage on Twitter for both semifinals on Saturday, March 11th. But for now, the madness before the madness awaits.