With just one weekend of regular season Ivy play left, the Ivy Tournament bracket is more or less solidified. Yale, Harvard, and Princeton have all clinched spots, while Penn, Brown, and Dartmouth are battling for a chance to be the No. 4 seed in the tournament. Yale, Harvard, and Penn have made the tournament in every year of its existence, but the Quakers are in danger of missing it for the first time. Here's how the Ivy League stacks up heading into the last weekend of action before the playoffs.
1. Yale (22-6, 10-2 Ivy)
Last week's rank: 1
The Elis were well on their way to losing their third conference game of the season, trailing by seven to Penn with 98 seconds left in the game. Yale wouldn't quit, and thanks to a strong full-court press and some Quaker miscues, the Bulldogs came out on top, 76-73, to clinch a spot in the Ivy League Tournament. Yale edged Princeton on Saturday, 66-63, behind 18 points from junior forward Paul Atkinson, and the Bulldogs proved over the weekend that they are the team to beat. Yale can clinch the No. 1 seed in the Ivy League Tournament — and an outright Ivy League championship — with a win over Harvard on Saturday or with a win over Dartmouth and a Harvard loss to Brown.
2. Harvard (20-7, 9-3 Ivy)
Last week's rank: 2
Looking to extend their four-game winning streak, the Crimson didn't cease to disappoint. Harvard thoroughly handled Columbia on Friday and Cornell on Saturday, ensuring a top-three seed in the Ivy Tournament. Having beaten Yale two weeks ago, Harvard can clinch the No. 1 seed in the Ivy Tournament if the team finishes with more wins than the Elis. Otherwise, the Crimson will most likely be the No. 2 seed unless Princeton wins out and Harvard loses out. Senior guard Bryce Aiken — whom many pundits believed would take home Ivy League Player of the Year honors — won't return this season, meaning that the Crimson will need to keep playing lockdown defense if they want to make a run to the NCAA Tournament.
3. Princeton (13-12, 8-4 Ivy)
Last week's rank: 3
Another weekend, another weekend split for Princeton. The Tigers dominated Brown, 71-49, on Friday, but a last-second three-point heave from sophomore forward Drew Friberg sent Princeton packing with a road loss. The Tigers have been one of the streakier teams in the League this season; They started the regular season 1-8 and started Ivy play 4-0, but they are just .500 since then. They'll need consistency if they want to perform well in the Ivy Tournament. The Tigers will most likely be the No. 3 seed, where they would face Harvard if the season ended today. Princeton can ascend to the No. 2 seed if it beats Cornell and Columbia and if Harvard loses to Yale and Brown, but it would still play the Crimson in this scenario. The team is 1-1 against Harvard this season, with both games being decided by a point.
4. Penn (14-11, 6-6 Ivy)
Last week's rank: 5
The Quakers had a mixed weekend. They beat Brown in a must-win game to put the Red and Blue at No. 4 in the Ivy League, but they collapsed in the last two minutes against Yale. Senior forward AJ Brodeur has stepped up in recent games, contributing 25 and 20 points on Friday and Saturday, respectively, and he's closing in on Penn's all-time scoring record. The Red and Blue have a number of scenarios in which they can obtain the No. 4 seed in the tournament, the most simple of which is sweeping Cornell and Columbia at home this weekend.
5. Brown (13-12, 6-6 Ivy)
Last week's rank: 4
In the Bears' last home stretch of the season, nothing was falling. Brown shot just 32.8% in a 71-49 loss to Princeton, and it lost an important game to Penn that put the team at No. 5 in the Ivy League standings. It hasn't helped that senior guard Brandon Anderson, who is the team's primary shot-taker, has struggled mightily in recent weeks. Brown has a tough road ahead to make the Ivy Tournament, but a sweep and one Penn loss would go a long way for the Bears.
6. Dartmouth (12-15, 5-7 Ivy)
Last week's rank: 6
The Big Green have now won five of their last six contests, and they still have a shot at making the Ivy League Tournament for the first time ever despite an 0-6 start to conference play. Dartmouth not only needs to beat Yale and Brown at home, but it also needs Columbia and Cornell — which are both winless on the road — to beat Penn at the Palestra. The Big Green would also need Brown to lose to Harvard or Harvard to beat Yale. Their tourney chances are slim, but coach David McLaughlin has done an impressive job turning this team around.
7. Cornell (6-19, 3-9 Ivy)
Last week's rank: 7
The Big Red dropped both of their games this past weekend, and they will miss the Ivy League Tournament for the third straight year after making it during the inaugural tourney. Junior forward Jimmy Boeheim has stepped up this year for Cornell despite missing some recent games due to injury.
8. Columbia (6-22, 1-11 Ivy)
Last week's rank: 8
Losers of their last 11 games, the Lions have clinched the worst record in the Ivy League. Outside of senior guard Mike Smith, who averages 22.8 points per game, no Lion has scored more than 10 points per game. Coach Jim Engles will need to re-evaluate this squad next season as the Lions prepare to move on without Smith.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.