Monday, February 25, 2019

A 4-0 Weekend

So another weekend of basketball has come and gone, and here's what both Princeton teams know: If they win out, they will be the Ivy League champions.

As February turns to March, that's a good thing to know.

Princeton played a pair of doubleheaders at home this weekend, first against Cornell Friday and then against Columbia Saturday, and the teams combined to go 4-0. As a result, both teams are in outstanding shape related to qualifying for the Ivy League tournament and are in position to win the championship.

This, by the way, is TigerBlog's annual reminder that the Ivy League champion is the regular season winner, not the tournament winner. The tournament is simply to determine who gets the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The Ivy League tournament will be played at Yale the weekend of March 16-17. Right now, it's looking like there are five teams on the women's side and six teams on the men's side who are still in contention for the four spots in each field.

TB will start with the women.

Princeton won two games this weekend after building huge leads and then holding off late charges. First it was against Cornell, when Princeton won 68-64 after being up by 21 early in the fourth quarter. Next it was Columbia, which ended up 65-59 after the Tigers led by as many as 24 in the first half.

Does letting those two big leads dwindle mean anything? Nope. Wins and losses. That's what it's about this time of year.

The current Ivy League women's basketball standings look like this:
Penn 8-1
Princeton 7-2
Harvard 7-3
Yale 5-5
Dartmouth 5-5
Cornell 3-7
Columbia 3-7
Brown 1-9

As an aside, in the last nine years, Princeton has won six Ivy League championships while Penn has won the other three. They each have one Ivy tournament title. Also in the last five years, Princeton and Penn have finished first and second each time.

Princeton has two more league weekends left, home with Dartmouth and Harvard and then at Brown and Yale. Oh, and there's also that other thing.

Princeton is at Penn tomorrow night in the second meeting of the year between the two. Should Penn win, it would clinch a spot in the Ivy tournament and take a two-game lead in the standings into the final two weekends.

A Princeton win, on the other hand, would tie the teams for first place. Also, in terms of the tournament race, a win over Penn wouldn't clinch a spot, but a win over Dartmouth Friday night would, regardless of whether Princeton wins or loses tomorrow night.

On the men's side, here are the standings:
Yale 8-2
Princeton 7-3
Harvard 7-3
Cornell 5-5
Brown 5-5
Penn 4-6
Columbia 2-8
Dartmouth 2-8

Ryan Schwieger had himself an interesting weekend. The sophomore entered Friday night's game against Cornell with a career high of 15, and he proceeded to put up 23 against the Big Red and 20 more against Columbia Saturday as the Tigers won 68-59 and 79-61.

Like the women, Princeton had a big lead Friday night, up by as many as 18, before Cornell cut it two. Then Princeton shut the Big Red out for the last 4:50 of the game. Princeton built a big lead against Columbia a night later and then never let the Lions back in it.

Speaking of Schwieger, he has now scored 136 points on the season, and more than half of those, 72 to be exact, have come in four games against Cornell and Columbia. In fact, that would be 53 percent.

Schwieger played with extraordinary confidence all weekend, whether it was on his three-point shot (6 for 10 for the weekend, 4 for 4 against Columbia), driving to the basket (shot 16 for 24 for the weekend) and all-around game (65 minutes played and a great feed to a cutting Richmond Aririguzoh for the exclamation point dunk against Cornell).

Fellow sophomore Jerome Desrosiers had his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds against Cornell - and then his second with 14 and 10 against Columbia. Freshman Ethan Wright made big contributions off the bench with eight points Friday and nine Saturday, shooting a combined 5 for 8 from three. Jaelin Llewellyn did his part, with 15 against Cornell and then 36 turnover-free minutes against Columbia.

Should Princeton win out, it would mean that the Tigers would have to beat Yale, which would mean the best the Bulldogs could do would be tie Princeton for first. On the other hand, should Princeton go 0-4, it could miss the tournament all together.

Actually, there are scenarios where Princeton could go 0-4 and still make the tournament. Here's how: Princeton gets swept, Brown beats Princeton and loses its other three and Penn goes 3-1 (including a loss to Brown) or worse or Cornell goes 2-2 or worse. A 7-7 Princeton team would be in.

Hey, but that's not the big story now.

Right now, as March arrives, the story is that both Princeton teams are playing for a league championship and thinking beyond that.

And that's a great place to be right now.

No comments: