Monday, February 22, 2016

The Weekend In Ivy Hoops

So another weekend has come and gone, and the Ivy League basketball races are even more interesting than they were a week ago.

In the entire history of Ivy League women's basketball, there has never been a season where two teams went 13-1, splitting with each other, and then met in a playoff game. The last game of the season has never come down to a game between a 13-0 team and a 12-1 team, for that matter.

On the men's side, there have been two 13-1 ties.

The first time was in 1959, when Dartmouth beat Princeton in Hanover and six days later, Princeton beat Dartmouth in Dillon Gym. The other time was in 1981, when Princeton beat Penn in Jadwin early in the league season and Penn beat Princeton less than a month later at the Palestra.

Now, with two weekends and then the Princeton-Penn doubleheader at Jadwin Gym on March 8 to go, the men's and women's races are still wildly up in the air. The possibility still exists for not just one but two 13-1 ties, though they are anything but certainties at this point.

Princeton's men did their part to make it a race with their scintillating 75-63 win over Yale Friday night and then commanding 77-66 win Brown Saturday as 7,000 fans made their way to Jadwin.

About two weeks ago, it seemed like Princeton's season would be defined in a six-day stretch, when the team would play at Columbia and then home with Yale.

What happened? Princeton had its incredible rally to beat Columbia in overtime last Saturday in New York City and then handed Yale its first league loss Friday at Jadwin.

Oh, and Devin Cannady in those two games? Well, his numbers for those two games were: 21.5 points per game, 13 for 19 from the field, 6 for 9 from three.

He also had two moments that transcended the numbers. First was his eight-points-in-25-seconds masterpiece to force OT against Columbia. Then it was his behind-the-back move to the basket for a layup against Yale, one that did two things: 1) announced his presence on the game and 2) ended up SportsCenter top plays of the day.

When TigerBlog was in the newspaper business, the men's basketball head coach at the College of New Jersey was a man named Donnie Marsh, who used to say that the toughest thing to do was win the game after the big game. Princeton-Yale was the big game this weekend; both came back with big wins Saturday.

And then there's Columbia, who swept Harvard and Dartmouth. In case you're keeping score, Princeton, Columbia and Yale won all of their games against other teams this weekend by double figures.

So that leaves the standings at Yale at 9-1, Princeton at 8-1 and Columbia at 8-2.  Penn is next at 4-5, and while the Quakers are still mathematically alive (everyone else is eliminated), it's safe to call this a three-way race.

Columbia is at Jadwin Friday (Cornell is there Saturday). Yale is at Columbia on the final day of the regular season for both.

There can be an outright championship. Or co-champs, even at 13-1. Or a three-way tie, which would be the first since Princeton, Penn and Yale in 2002.

Right now, the three contenders are a combined 21-0 against the rest of the league. Of course, the other five teams would like nothing more than to destroy the championship hopes of the other three, and no game is a gimme.

It's going to make for a crazy two-plus weeks.

As for the women?

Well, Penn and Princeton continued to roll, going 4-0 against Brown and Yale with a combined victory margin of 77 points. Princeton and Penn are 16-0 against the rest of the league, with 15 of those 16 wins by double figures.

As a side note, Saturday's win over Brown was Courtney Banghart's 100th Ivy win at Princeton, against 21 Ivy losses, 10 of which came in her first year and 15 of which came in her first two years.

This is Year 9 for her. That means she's had six in the last six-plus years.  

The standings on the women's side show Penn at 9-0 and Princeton at 8-1. It doesn't drop off the table from there, as Harvard is 7-3 and Dartmouth is 6-4, both riding four-game winning streaks.

Princeton and Penn are at Columbia and Cornell this weekend and then home with Dartmouth and Harvard the following weekend, before their showdown at Jadwin on March 8.

Again, another crazy two-plus weeks.

There's a doubleheader at Jadwin Gym two weeks from tomorrow.

Will Game 1 be 13-0 against 12-1? Will Game 2 to be to force a playoff, win an outright championship, force another 13-1 vs. 13-1 game?

TigerBlog has been following Ivy basketball closely for more than 30 years.

This year is one of the best he's seen.

Oh, and did he mention the possibility of getting two bids to the NCAA tournament, for the men and/or the women?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Blog- For historical accuracy the three way tie in men's Ivy league basketball was between Penn, Princeton and Yale in 2002. With respect- Thanks!