Friday, November 14, 2014

Is It Fall Or Winter?

TigerBlog wore shorts Wednesday. Then it snowed yesterday.

What's going on around here?

It was a perfect 65 degrees Wednesday evening. There was snow sticking to the grass last night.

Is it fall? Is it winter?

Well, it's basically both. At least if you look at a busy, busy Princeton sports calendar.

Basketball season opens today. Football has a huge game tomorrow. And then there's everything else.

There are 18 athletic events between today at Sunday, featuring 13 different teams (if TigerBlog is counting right). The breakdown by season - six fall (football, women's volleyball, field hockey, men's soccer, men's cross country, women's cross country) and seven winter (m/w basketball, m/w hockey, m/w fencing, wrestling).

Obviously the biggest games involve the fall teams. The winter ones are just getting started.

Do any of the fall teams control their own destiny? No. Nobody controls destiny. Destiny is something that just happens. That's why it's destined. 

Anyway here are some of the highlights:

* Men's Soccer 

Princeton enters the last day of the regular season tied for first in the league with Dartmouth. Princeton is at Yale at 3; Dartmouth hosts Brown at 5. Harvard, who is at Penn at 7, will still be in the mix if both Princeton and Dartmouth lose.

Basically, here's how it goes.

Dartmouth controls its outcome - not destiny. A win and the Big Green get no worse than a share of the league title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Princeton would get a share of the championship with a win, but it needs a win and a Dartmouth loss or tie to get the NCAA tournament bid. There can be a two-tie for the championship with Harvard and Princeton, Harvard and Dartmouth or Princeton and Dartmouth or a three-way tie between all three. Princeton gets the automatic bid only with an outright championship or a tie with Harvard.

Princeton and Dartmouth have 13 points. Harvard has 11. Princeton has beaten Harvard and lost to Dartmouth. Harvard and Dartmouth tied. You get three points for a win and one for a tie.

Do the math.

* Football

Princeton is at Yale at 12:30 in a match-up of teams who are tied for second, along with Dartmouth, at 4-1, a game behind Harvard. Dartmouth is home with Brown, and Harvard is at Penn. It's just like soccer.

Next week's schedule has Princeton home with Dartmouth and Yale at Harvard.

If Harvard wins out, then the Crimson will win the outright title. Should Harvard lose, then the door is open for a co-championship.

The problem for Princeton is that the only way Yale can go into the game against Harvard with a shot at the championship - assuming a Harvard win over Penn - is to beat Princeton. While this would give Yale maximum motivation for the game against Harvard, it would also eliminate Princeton. On the other hand, since the game against Harvard is The Game against Harvard, maybe motivation won't be an issue no matter what happens.

Yale leads the Ivy League with 343 points scored, on a pace for 429 points for the season. Princeton set the Ivy record a year ago with 437.

* Field hockey 

Princeton finds itself where it traditionally does, in the NCAA tournament.

Two years ago Princeton defeated Maryland in the semifinals and then North Carolina in the championship game. Last year Princeton was eliminated by Maryland in the quarterfinal.

This year, after Princeton won another outright Ivy League championship and then defeated Monmouth in the play-in game Wednesday (when it was sunny and close to 70, by the way), the Tigers find themselves at Maryland in the first round.

The Terrapins defeated Princeton 8-1 during the regular season in the only game the Tigers played that really got away from them. Princeton, as always, played a brutal non-league schedule, and only the Maryland game was more than one or two goals.

* Women's basketball

The Tigers are preseason co-favorites in the Ivy League, along with Penn. Princeton ends the regular season at Penn on March 10, which is about four months from now.

Princeton is on the western side of the state right now, as Princeton is at Pittsburgh to open its season today at 11. The Tigers will then play Duquesne Sunday morning.

* Ben Badua's weekend

Ben Badua is the field hockey and women's basketball contact in the Office of Athletic Communications.  This is what his weekend is like:

He's currently in Pittsburgh for the women's basketball game. Then he's going to rent a car and drive to Maryland for field hockey tomorrow morning, before driving back to Pittsburgh for the Duquesne game. Then it's back on the bus to get home.

* Cross-country regional

Princeton competes today in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional at Penn State. The women run at noon in a 6K; the men are at 1 in a 10K.

The top two teams in each race automatically advance to the Nov. 22 NCAA championships in Terre Haute, Ind. There will also be at-large bids awarded, based on a point system that TB doesn't even pretend to understand.

In addition, the top four runners from teams that do not qualify will also get spots in the NCAA championship field.

Princeton is ranked fourth in the region for both the men and women.

* Women's hockey

Princeton is home this weekend for games against Union tonight at 7 and RPI tomorrow at 4. Both opponents are 1-8-2.

The Tigers received a vote in the USCHO Top 10 poll this week and are 4-1-1. Princeton hasn't allowed a goal in its last 104:32, all of which was last week against RIT, including a 0-0 tie last Saturday.

Princeton is 20-1-1 all-time against Union, though 0-1-0 in the last one game of the series. Union defeated Princeton 2-1 in the last meeting between the two.

* Men's basketball
Princeton opens its season against Rider tonight at 7 on Carril Court at Jadwin Gym. It's not exactly a long bus ride for the Broncs, whose campus is about six miles down Route 206. 

Of course, that little fact didn't mean the teams were frequent dance partners through the years. In fact, there was a small gap in there were the two had nothing to do with each other.

The gap began on Dec. 11, 1946, when Cappy Cappon led the Tigers to a 59-37 win. And who was the Princeton coach when the teams next played?

John Thompson. That would have been on Nov. 28, 2001. In other words, it was about 55 years between games.

Why? It never made sense to TigerBlog. In fact they've only played three times since, including in 2011-12 and 2012-13, though not last year.

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