Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Root, Root, Root For The Home Team?

There is one question that TigerBlog has been asked - and has asked - more than any other the last few days.

For whom will you be rooting in the Penn-Princeton men's basketball game Tuesday night?

See, it's not as simple as rooting for Penn or Princeton.

And, by the way, that hasn't always been so simple for TigerBlog anyway.

Back when he was a student at Penn, TB implicitly rooted for Penn. The idea of rooting for Princeton? Impossible.

Then, when he started to work at the newspaper and cover Princeton, he was supposed to be neutral. And of course in many ways he was, though he does remember when Chuck Yrigoyen asked him circa 1990 which team he was rooting for and TB said something along the lines of "don't tell anyone, but Princeton."

Through the years, TB has found it surprisingly easy to root against his alma mater, a place that he has nothing but great memories of from his time as an undergraduate.

There are many people that TB talks to who ask him how such a thing is possible or if he's torn or anything. The answer is no. He's been here nearly a quarter-century; he was there four years.

Tonight, though, is a vastly different situation, a mathematical one at that:

Rooting for Penn = Rooting for Penn
Rooting for Princeton = Rooting for Harvard

Princeton hosts Penn tonight in the regular-season finale for the Ivy League, and the league's automatic bid is very much in play. Just not for Princeton.

The Tigers, who are playing as well as any team in the league now, were eliminated last weekend, even though the team swept Yale and Brown.

As the ball goes up tonight, Penn is 11-2 in the league, while Harvard is finished at 12-2 and with at least a co-championship. A Penn win tonight forces a playoff Saturday for the automatic bid; a Princeton win tonight gives Harvard the outright title.

If this seems familiar, it's because it's sort of the exact situation as last year, except with the Penn and Princeton roles reversed.

Last year, Princeton was 11-2, Harvard was 12-2, Penn was mathematically eliminated and Princeton had to win on the road to force the playoff. That worked out well for the Tigers.

Will it for the Quakers?

Only if Princeton loses.

Which means if you're a Princeton fan but would rather see Penn than Harvard in the NCAA tournament, what do you do?

Do you actually root for the Quakers to beat your Tigers?

Elsewhere in college basketball, two Princeton alums suffered excruciating losses last night, as Sydney Johnson's Fairfield team lost by three to Loyola - and its, uh, excitable coach Jimmy Patsos - in the MAAC final and Joe Scott and Denver lost in the Sun Belt semifinals 67-63 to Western Kentucky.

Were you rooting for either? Both? Neither?

If there was an Ivy League tournament, then it's like Penn-Princeton would have a been one semifinal, with the winner to play Harvard. Even though it hurts Princeton, TB still is anti-tournament.

Iona, for instance, should be representing the MAAC, not Loyola. Middle Tennessee State went 14-2 in the Sun Belt and 25-6 overall; instead the league will be represented by either Western Kentucky (13-16 in the regular season) or North Alabama (16-13).

And by the way, did you notice the crowd at the MAAC final? Yeah, there wasn't one.

Come the NCAA tournament, TigerBlog will definitely be rooting for Georgetown and hopefully will get the chance to root for Northwestern.

Come tonight, when push comes to shove, he'll be rooting for the Tigers, even if it costs his alma mater its NCAA shot.


Brian McD said...

Despite the dilemma, it will be fun the think of all of those Harvard fans and players rooting for Princeton a year after we bounced them from a trip to the big dance. I wish we could get a video or audio feed of that!

Anonymous said...

I will watch tonight's game completely secure in the knowledge that whom I root for will have no impact whatsoever on the outcome. And then, afterwards, I will celebrate either a beautiful coda to the regular season for us or a new hurdle for Harvard.

Brent compton said...

happy Tuesday from your Indiana friend, brent compton! I couldn't wait for this game tonight. Ian hummer was superb and Zach Rosen was hard nosed as always. Will forever be following this rivalry from afar. Thanks for letting me feel apart of something special.