Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Another Weekend In Ivy Hoops

They all started out in the beginning thinking they were the one with the resources, organization and support to go all the way, to be the last one standing to the applause at the end.

Little by little, they fell by the wayside, dropping out here and there until now, as March begins, the genuine contenders are the ones left in the hunt for the big prize.

TigerBlog is speaking about the Ivy League basketball races.

What, you thought he was talking about the Presidential primary season?

Today is Super Tuesday in that arena. Next Tuesday could be a super Tuesday in the arena in which TigerBlog works.

But that is getting ahead of things. Way, way ahead of things.

Princeton's two basketball teams have three regular season games remaining. They both play Harvard Friday, Dartmouth Saturday and Penn Tuesday, with the women at home this weekend, the men away this weekend and both in Jadwin Tuesday.

Both Princeton teams won this weekend, sweeping Columbia and Cornell.

An interesting side note for the men's game against Columbia is that it was 88-83, which was the exact score Princeton beat Columbia by in New York earlier this season. Those are the only two 88-83 games in program history, by the way.

TigerBlog doesn't know if either the men or women have ever beaten a team by the same score twice in one season. That would take a lot of research.

The big game for the weekend figured to be the Princeton-Columbia men's game. It was the make-or-break moment for the Lions, who were either going to tie Princeton and move a game back of Yale with a home game against the Bulldogs still to go or fall two games behind both.

The win by Princeton might have kayoed Columbia, who to its considerable credit came back the next night with a big win at Penn. Princeton defeated Cornell 74-60 after leading by three at the break.

The women?

Well, they were in control from start to finish both games, winning by a combined 66 points against the Lions and Big Red.

The race on the women's side was further shaped when Penn lost its first Ivy game, falling to Cornell Friday night. The men's race came really, really, really close to a similar shakeup before Yale survived against Dartmouth in overtime.

So where does that leave everything?

On the women's side, Princeton and Penn are tied for first at 10-1 each. Harvard, at 9-3, can still mathematically get a share of the championship, and it's really not that out of the question that the Crimson could pull it off.

What would it take? Glad you asked.

First, Harvard must sweep. One Harvard loss this weekend and the Crimson are eliminated.

On the other hand, if Harvard can sweep, then all the Crimson would need would be one Dartmouth win to stay alive in the race. If that happened, then Harvard would need the team team that Dartmouth beat to win the Princeton-Penn game and there'd be a three-way tie.

If it's dreaming big, then two Dartmouth wins to go with two Harvard wins would get Harvard a share of the title, with the team that then won the Princeton-Penn game.

At the other end of the spectrum, Princeton and Penn can have a tie for the championship by having one of them lose once this weekend and the other win the head-to-head game. And of course, a Princeton/Penn sweep this weekend sets up a winner-take-all game Tuesday.

So that's the women.

The men?

As with the women, there are three teams mathematically alive - Yale (11-1), Princeton (10-1) and Columbia (9-3). Like with the women, Columbia needs a lot of help; unlike Harvard's women, almost all of it is out of Columbia's control after Princeton's win here Friday.

Again, had Columbia won that game, it would be playing this weekend at home against Brown and Yale knowing that a sweep would mean at least a share of the title. Instead, Columbia would be eliminated if Yale were to beat Cornell Friday.

Even if Columbia sweeps and Yale loses to Cornell, the Lions still need Princeton to go 1-2.

As for Princeton and Yale, they're headed to a playoff game if they both win out, with Princeton obviously with an additional game.

Clearly the road to a championship isn't easy for either Princeton or Yale, both of whom have to win huge games on the road this weekend. And Penn of course is looming out there, loving the thought of denying Princeton a possible title.

That'll be next Tuesday at Jadwin. It could be one game for a championship or two games for a championship - the Super Tuesday part.

Of course, it could also turn out to be meaningless as far as either championship is concerned, depending on this weekend.

It's been a great year of Ivy League basketball. The end is close - but the ending is still very much uncertain.

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