Friday, May 3, 2019

Championships At Stake

BrotherBlog is teaching about free speech this afternoon.

Otherwise, he'd be watching Princeton women's tennis in the NCAA tournament at the University of Washington, whose law school happens to be his employer. TigerBlog, thinking about an effective marketing strategy, suggested his brother give the class the day off on the condition they go the tennis match and root for the Tigers.

Hey, it's not even like they're playing against U-Dub.

It's Princeton against Northwestern in the opening round of the NCAA tournament in Seattle. For the Tigers, it's the fifth NCAA appearance in six years and seventh in the last 11.

The other match at that site will feature the host Huskies against Army-West Point. The winners will meet tomorrow afternoon.

Perhaps BB can commit to attending if the Tigers are still playing. It won't be easy.

Northwestern is making its 30th NCAA appearance, including its 24th straight. A year ago Northwestern won two NCAA matches to reach the round of 16.

These Wildcats are ranked 27th in the country. Princeton is ranked 34th. Washington is ranked 10th and is hosting for the first time in 16 years.

Somewhat amazingly, there aren't really all that many athletic events left to the 2018-19 academic year. That's what happens when May rolls around.

There are some huge ones left, and the women's tennis is not the only one with a huge weekend, though they have had to travel the furthest.

The men's and women's track and field teams won't have to travel at all to compete for their Ivy League championships. The Heptagonal outdoor event will be held at Weaver Track and Field Stadium tomorrow and Sunday.

The Princeton men are chasing a second-straight Triple Crown after having won the cross country and indoor track and field championships. In fact, Princeton has won seven straight Heps titles across the three seasons.

This weekend also features the 10th Ivy League men's and women's lacrosse tournaments.

The first eight men's tournaments were held on the campus of the top seed before last year's moved to Columbia. The first nine women's tournaments were also held at the top seed, but this year the women are joining the men in New York City.

Had the old rules still been in place, Princeton would be planning to host the women's tournament, since the Tigers are again the top seed. Instead, it's a chance to experience the neutral site in the big city.

Princeton takes on fourth-seeded Cornell in the second semifinal this afternoon, with the opening draw at 5. Dartmouth and Penn open the tournament at 2; the final is Sunday at 1:30.

The Ivy League tournament determines only the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The 2019 champions will be Princeton and Dartmouth, who both finished at 6-1 in the regular season. Princeton is the top seed by virtue of its win over the Big Green in Hanover.

Realistically, Princeton has nothing to worry about when it comes to being in the NCAA tournament. The Tigers have six wins over Top 25 teams, and two of their three losses are to No. 1 Maryland and No. 6 Virginia.

What's at stake then?

Well, first of all, there's the opportunity to play at home in the NCAAs. The NCAA women's lacrosse committee had Princeton at No. 7 in their rankings a week ago, which would equal a home game and first-round bye. That's a pretty tangible thing on the line.

Then there's what Princeton head coach Chris Sailer said on her weekly podcast with TigerBlog this week. It was something along the line of "when there's a championship to play for, we want to win that championship."

It's a pretty good attitude to have.

To win this championship, Princeton is first going to have to beat a team that it just did six days ago. The Tigers defeated Cornell 18-15 last Saturday in Ithaca, running out to a 12-5 halftime lead and a 14-5 lead in the second half before the Big Red finished strong.

Cornell always plays Princeton tough, and the Big Red are playing to get into the NCAAs. Plus, Cornell figures to have gotten a lot of confidence from the way the second half went last week.

Should Princeton get past Cornell, up next would be two teams whom the Tigers defeated by two goals, snapping tie games in the final three minutes both times.

Winning this tournament won't be easy. Then again, not much about this season has been easy for Princeton, but the Tigers are still Ivy League champions again, for the sixth straight year.

So that's women's tennis far way, men's and women's track and field at home and women's lacrosse not too far but not as close as it otherwise might have been.

No comments: