As the 2018 Ivy League Basketball Tournament approaches for the men’s and women’s teams, there is much left to be determined. The last two weeks of conference play will decide which teams qualify for the tournament, as well as where those teams will be seeded.
Ahead of the men’s tournament, the race for the number one seed has only two contenders left: Penn and Harvard. The two teams both stand at a record of 9-1 in conference games, following Penn’s away loss to Harvard just over a week ago. The Crimson got their only Ivy loss of the season in an early February game at Columbia.
The two powerhouse programs will face off this weekend in a game that will have big tournament implications.
While Penn and Harvard are both guaranteed a spot in the tournament due to their near-perfect records, the last two spots are open for almost anyone. Yale, at 5-5, leads the rest of the league, while Brown, Cornell, and Columbia all trail with a record of 4-6. A lot will be sorted out this weekend, when Yale and Brown each face off against Cornell and Columbia in New York.
Princeton, at 3-7, and even Dartmouth, at 2-8, still are contenders for the four-seed, if they can win out and other key games fall into place. It’s not impossible, as Penn demonstrated last year when they made the 2017 tournament with a 6-8 record and nearly knocked the no. 1 seeded Princeton out.
The Tigers, who won the inaugural tournament last year and nearly beat Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament Round of 64, have fallen off significantly from last season, and are now long shots to make the tournament. After starting conference play 3-1, Princeton is on a six-game slide heading into its Friday matchup against Harvard. The Big Green will also be tested this weekend when they face the Quakers, a team that beat them handily earlier this season.
As for the women’s tournament, the Quakers fell to 8-2 after suffering a season sweep by Princeton earlier this month. They now trail the Tigers, who lead the conference with a record of 9-1. In order for Penn to reclaim the top spot in the conference, another team must beat Princeton.
Also in the running for a top tournament seed are Harvard, Dartmouth, and Yale, all tied at 6-4. Although they could pass Princeton and Penn, it would take a near-perfect end to conference play. The three tied schools do not play each other again this season, which means they could enter the tournament together in a three-way tie.
To make matters even more complicated, all three teams split their season series 1-1, which means that if they end the season tied, their records against other teams in the league could decide who makes the tournament.
No team is guaranteed a spot in the tournament yet, but Princeton can secure a spot with one more win. As far as the rest of the field, only Columbia is mathematically eliminated from contention, although it would take a lot for Cornell or Brown, both 2-8, to find their way into the tournament given the records of the five teams ahead of them.
With almost all Ivy men’s and women’s basketball teams still eligible for a tournament appearance, nearly every game this weekend will be an exciting showdown with huge tournament implications.
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