Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Scenario Speaking

Back in 1995, TigerBlog was doing the football game notes for the Princeton-Dartmouth season finale.

Of course, these were strictly media notes, rather than for general public consumption, since there was no web page yet. In fact, most media people got the notes through something called "Fax on Demand," where TB would fax his notes to a location that only media people could access. Today, about hundreds of people read the football game notes each week - or the pregame stories for all 38 sports - and very few of them are media people.

Ah, but TB digresses. Back at the Princeton-Dartmouth game, it was possible that Princeton could win the outright title or that there could be a four-way tie for the league championship or anything in between. TB went through all the scenarios and then figured he might as well throw in what would happen in the case of a tie. As Princeton fans know, the game ended 10-10, and Princeton won the outright league championship.

TigerBlog couldn't help but think back to that moment as he started going through Ivy League lacrosse tournament scenarios.

As an aside, TB can't believe how many people are struggling with something that is very simple: The Ivy League lacrosse champions will be the regular-season winner or winners for men and women as they always have been; the tournament winner will not be the league champion but will receive the league's automatic bids to the NCAA tournament.

TigerBlog has seen that written incorrectly all over the place and has been asked about it a million times this spring.

So, where do we stand?

Let's start with the women. Penn plays here tomorrow night and home against Brown Sunday, and a win in either will clinch at least a tie for the championship and will earn the Quakers the host role for the women's tournament. Why? Because even a split would leave Penn at 6-1, which is the best Dartmouth could be (should the Big Green beat Harvard and Princeton), but Penn defeated Dartmouth head-to-head.

As for the rest of the field, Penn has already clinched its spot in the tournament, while it would take some really bizarre things for Dartmouth not to get in, though it is mathematically possible.

That leaves four teams for two spots - Cornell, Harvard, Yale and Princeton. There are a ton of ways it could all play out, but none of them work for Princeton without either a win over either Penn or Dartmouth or a win by 0-6 Columbia over Harvard.

On the men's side, Princeton is the only team to have clinched a spot in the field (TB was wrong yesterday when he said Cornell had clinched as well), and either of those two would host by winning its final two league games. Princeton is at Harvard and Cornell is home against Brown this Saturday; Cornell is at Princeton the following Saturday.

Princeton is 4-0 in the league, while Cornell is 3-1, which means that a win by Princeton Saturday clinches at least a share of the league title, though not the host spot for the tournament. Why? If Princeton and Cornell both win this weekend and Cornell beats Princeton, then both teams would be 5-1 and co-champions, but Cornell would have beaten Princeton head-to-head. On the other hand, if Princeton beats Cornell, it will host the tournament regardless of what either team does this weekend.

Like on the women's side, there are all kinds of possibilities left, even one in which Princeton finishes 5-1, Penn finishes 1-5 and the other five teams finish 3-3. No matter what happens, though, all tiebreakers to determine tournament teams favor Cornell.

To get to five teams at 3-3, this is what has to happen:
Harvard beats Princeton and Yale, leaving Harvard and Yale at 3-3
Princeton beats Cornell, getting the Tigers to 5-1
Brown beats Cornell and loses to Dartmouth (who also beats Penn), getting Brown, Cornell and Dartmouth to 3-3

In other words, if six games all fall the right way (and none of which would be shocking), then you'd have five 3-3 teams. If TB is reading the tiebreakers correctly, then the Ivy tournament would be Princeton vs. Dartmouth and Harvard vs. Yale.

The only other way Cornell doesn't make the tournament is (stay with TB here):
Yale beats Harvard
Brown beats Cornell but loses to Dartmouth, who also beats Penn
Princeton beats Cornell

So, let's try to sum it up:

As we know, Princeton is already in and Penn is mathematically eliminated (the Quakers could tie for fourth but not win any tiebreaker). Cornell is definitely in by winning one of its remaining two. Yale definitely is in by beating Harvard (its only remaining league game). Brown definitely is in by beating Cornell and Dartmouth.

Harvard and Dartmouth need some help, but they are mathematically alive and there are a bunch of scenarios that end with one of those two in the tournament.

And there you have it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Masterfully done--as disentangled as an IRS instruction ;>)