Thursday, May 12, 2016

More Than Half

TigerBlog got off the Jadwin elevator at around 12:30 yesterday and saw Lisa Van Ackeren was part of the lunchtime basketball game.

It had been two days since Van Ackeren led her Princeton softball team to the Ivy League championship, defeating Harvard in a decisive third game in the Ivy League championship series, and it was four days before she was to find out where her team will be playing in the NCAA tournament.

So why not play some basketball?

Van Ackeren's team gave Princeton its 12th Ivy League championship of the academic year. It also put Princeton two Ivy titles ahead of Harvard for the year.

Oh, and the Ivy League all-sports points championship? The unofficial one?

Princeton has 5.5 point lead over Harvard at this point, but the Tigers are assured of gaining either 4.5 or 5.5 points on the Crimson in baseball. Princeton hosts the Ivy League championship series this weekend, taking on Yale.

Because of that, Princeton will be at minimum 10 points over Harvard when the baseball playoff is over. It means that it is nearly impossible mathematically for Harvard to catch Princeton, which means that Princeton will have won for the 29th time in the last 30 years.

The softball team finished second in its division last year, meaning that Van Ackeren's team became the fifth Princeton team to win this year after not winning last year. Add that to the 12 this year, and that's 17 different Princeton teams that have won an Ivy title in the last two academic years.

Because the Ivy League crowns a champ in 33 sports, that means that more than half of the Princeton teams that compete for an Ivy title have won at least one in the last two years alone. Of all the stats that TigerBlog could come up with related to Princeton sports, that one might be the most impressive.

It shows a total across-the-board commitment to athletic success here, from the department to the University as a whole.

The four league titles still on the table - baseball, women's open rowing, men's lightweight rowing and men's heavyweight rowing - will be decided this weekend. Princeton did not win any of those four a year ago, so it is possible for the percentage of teams to win at least one in the last two years could go up.

Again, that's unbelievably impressive.

As for the four remaining championships, they're part of a busy weekend for Princeton. Not as busy as a weekend in November or February, but still a reasonably busy one.

And the last busy one.

It's also the end of home events at Princeton for the year.

The baseball playoffs begin Saturday at noon on Clarke Field. Princeton and Yale will play twice Saturday, with a deciding game Sunday at 1 if necessary. The winner is the Ivy League champ and earns an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

If you're wondering, Princeton was 7-32 a year ago and 4-16 in the Ivy League. This year has been an amazing turnaround, as the Tigers will bring a 22-18 overall record and 13-7 Ivy record into the weekend.

Princeton went from last in its division a year ago to winning by three games this year.

Yale swept Princeton 6-3 and 6-1 back on April 8 in New Haven, something that means relatively little for the rematch. The bigger issue for Princeton is that it hasn't played in two weeks, because Yale and Dartmouth needed last week for a playoff to decide the divisional title.

In football, a week off to play a team that didn't have a week off could be a pretty good bonus. In baseball, you want to just keep playing. Of course, once the games start, that should be forgotten.

The only other home events left on the 2015-16 calendar are the IC4A and ECAC track meets this weekend at Weaver Track and Field.

The women's lacrosse team and the women's tennis team will be in the NCAA tournament on the road tomorrow, with tennis at South Carolina against Georgia Tech and women's lacrosse at Cornell against UMass. The winner gets the winner of the Big Red and Canisius.

As for the rowing, the Eastern Sprints for men's heavyweights and lightweights are in Worcester, Mass. The heavyweight final could be a great one, as third-ranked Princeton will try to catch second-ranked Yale, with everyone else's trying to catch those two boats.

The women's Ivy League championships will be closer to home, at Mercer County Park in West Windsor. Brown is the favorite there, but never count out Lori Dauphiny.

By the end of the weekend, there won't be that many events left to the academic year.

There will be the NCAA track and field regionals and championships. There will be the national championships in rowing. There will be the NCAA softball tournament and possibly the same for baseball. Women's lacrosse and tennis would love to still be playing.

And that'll be it for 2015-16.

It's already been a wildly successful year. And, with 17 different sports having won Ivy titles, a wildly successful two years.

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