Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Mt. Rushmore Of Women's Basketball Weekends

TigerBlog DVRd the movie "North By Northwest" the other day. He'll get around to watching it at some point.

So what that he's seen it a bunch of times? It's a classic, Hitchcock at his best, Cary Grant at his best, Eva Marie Saint not quite at her "On the Waterfront" best but pretty close.

If you've never seen it, it's worth the investment. Grant plays an apparently soft advertising man who unwittingly gets into the middle of a big espionage situation, falling in love with Eva Marie Saint along the way - even as he doesn't even wrinkle his suit while running through a corn field to get away from a crop duster.

The movie also has one of the great gaffes of all-time, as a young extra in one scene covers his ears before a gun is fired. Being that this is a Hitchcock movie, TB has always assumed that he did that on purpose.

The most famous scene in the movie takes place on Mt. Rushmore, a place that TB has never been but thinks would be cool to see.

Mt. Rushmore has been in the news in recent weeks in a mind-numbing way that is worse to TigerBlog than fingers or a chalkboard. Somehow, sports talk has become dominated by Mt. Rushmore, as in "who would be on the Mt. Rushmore of all-time NBA basketball players" or "who is on the Mt. Rushmore of all-time Yankees."

On and on this has gone, as if somehow there is one correct answer. As someone who just counted down his top 25 Princeton men's lacrosse players of the last 25 years, TigerBlog is okay with recognizing the best of the best and making the case for one player over another.

At the same time, it's enough with this "Mt. Rushmore" stuff. First of all, TB made it clear that it was his opinion and anyone else could have another one, as opposed to the whole "Mt. Rushmore" discussion, which has led to ridiculous conversations about how one person is so obviously right and the next person is so obviously an idiot.

And then there's the real problem. Can someone come up with something original?

Anyway, that's TB's take on the whole Mt. Rushmore situation.

Before he lets it go, though, he will say this: This weekend would be on the Mt. Rushmore of Ivy League women's basketball weekends. And don't even try to disagree with that.

Unless you want to. What does TB care?

The recent history of Ivy League women's basketball has been one of having a dominant team, which, by the way, for the last four years has been Princeton.

It's been since 2008 that the Ivy League women's basketball champ didn't win the league by at least two games. In fact, in the last 20 years, the Ivy women's basketball winner has won by at least two games 15 times - and by at least four games seven times.

This year, through the midway point, the race is way closer than it traditionally is.

It's a three-team race between Princeton, Penn and Harvard, who just happen to meet up with each other in Cambridge this weekend. Hence the Mt. Rushmore thing.

Harvard is 7-1 in the league, while Princeton and Penn are both 6-1. All three play each other once more this season, with two of those three meetings this weekend at Harvard, where the Crimson host the Quakers tomorrow and the Tigers Saturday.

The three are 1-1 against each other and 16-0 against the rest of the league to this point. Harvard had one close call with a 58-57 win over Yale. Penn has a seven-point win over Columbia.

Other than that, the other 14 games the teams have played against the rest of the league have all been in double figures.

Not that when they played each other it was any closer. Princeton lost to Harvard by 10. Princeton beat Penn by 31. Penn beat Harvard by 29.

It's possible that the three could be headed to 12-2 and three-way tie for the title, which would result in a random draw for the bye in the playoff. Or its possible that one will sweep the other two.

Given the way the rest of the results have gone, it's not a wise plan for either of the three to count on getting much help from the other five. It could happen of course, but it's not something to rely on.

And that means the games this weekend are incredibly huge.

Each of the three can make a case that its loss was an aberration. Princeton was coming off a three-week exam break, returned against Harvard, dug a huge first-half hole and almost came all the way back. Harvard lost to Penn the day after beating Princeton, in what was an understandable emotional letdown. Penn got hammered by Princeton but hasn't lost a league game since.

And now they have a huge weekend together.

Would you rather play Harvard Friday or Saturday? Penn gets the Crimson off the bat and then has to make the drive to Hanover to take on Dartmouth, who is 0-8 in the league. Princeton has to play in Hanover first, with an eye on the scoreboard and the game the next night.

Would you rather be Harvard, having to play the two big games back-to-back but knowing that 1) you're at home and 2) if you sweep then all you have to do is win out and you're in?

It's a fascinating weekend in Ivy women's baskeball, which historically doesn't usually get to this time of year with too many fascinating weekends.

1 comment:

haphar said...

How can we get any info on men's basketball now that Jon Solomon has shut down? Mysteries abound and no one is saying anything.