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How We Got Here: Men’s Basketball’s Road to the Palestra

March Madness has arrived right on time in the Ivy League, with the second to last day of regular season games possibly hinting at what could come in the second Ivy League conference tournament. Earlier tonight, Princeton and Brown faced each other, with the winner guaranteed a chance to make the playoffs and the loser not mathematically eliminated, but reliant on three other teams for a breathing chance. In the end, the Princeton Tigers bested the Brown Bears 78 to 63.

In New Haven, CT, first-place Penn visited Yale. Yale needed a win in order to clinch a spot in the conference tournament. Penn’s only in-conference loss was away at Dartmouth earlier this season, and Penn is also th only school in the Ivy League with a winning visiting record. Penn led by as much as 34 points during the game, but in the final seconds with Yale trailing 79-78, the Bulldogs drew up a final play, banking in a layup as time expired. Yale clinched a spot with it 80 to 79 home win.

Columbia was tied for fourth place heading into its game against Dartmouth. While Dartmouth had only two conference wins this season, it led for all but two minutes in the first half. Final score: Dartmouth 80, Columbia 78.

In possibly the most exciting game of the night, Cornell visited Harvard. Harvard already clinched a spot in the conference tournament, but still fought for a chance at the number one seed, given a win and a loss for Penn. Six lead changes during regulation and two ties kept the game exciting throughout, but regulation wasn’t enough to decide a winner. Tied 77-77 at the end of regulation, both teams looked tired going into overtime, but did enough to extend the game to a second overtime, tied at 87. Cornell’s five could not outlast Harvard’s, which outscored them 11 to 1 in the second overtime. Harvard’s 98 50 88 win prevented Cornell from the outright lead of fourth place given Columbia’s loss earlier in the night.

With one day of regular season games remaining, three teams are tied for the fourth place, but only one will make the Ivy League Conference Tournament.

Current Standings:



Saturday’s Games:

Penn at Brown, March 3, 2018 at 6pm     (P) 99 – 93 (B)

Columbia at Harvard, March 3, 2018 at 7pm     (C) 74 – 93 (H)

Cornell at Dartmouth, March 3, 2018 at 7pm     (C) 86 – 75 (D)

Princeton at Yale, March 3, 2018 at 7pm     (P) 90 – 94 (Y)

Penn’s Playoff Scenario:

Since Penn won at Brown and Harvard won against Columbia, Penn and Harvard are tied 1 game to 1, head to head. The tie-breaker goes to the teams’ respective records and the next highest seeded team, which is guaranteed to be Yale based on conference record. Harvard is 2-0 vs Yale, Penn is 1-1 vs Yale, so Harvard is the number one seed.

Harvard’s Playoff Scenario:

Since Harvard beat Columbia and Penn beat Brown, Harvard is the number one seed.

Yale’s Playoff Scenario:

Regardless of the outcomes of last weekend, Yale is the number three seed in the conference tournament.

Cornell’s Playoff Scenario:

Since, and only since, Cornell beat Dartmouth, Columbia lost to Harvard and Princeton lost to Yale, Cornell is the fourth seed.

If either Princeton or Columbia were to win, even if Cornel had won, Cornell would not compete in the conference tournament.

What made the lead up to this weekend’s tournament so exciting was that none of the teams vying for the final playoff spot played each other. Also, the stakes are high this upcoming weekend as the top four Ivy League teams compete for a bid in the national tournament. No Ivy League team has ever won the national tournament, but in recent years many Ivy League schools have been Cinderella teams in the tournament. Last season, Princeton nearly upset fifth-seeded Notre Dame in the first round, losing 60-58. In 2016, Yale pulled the first upset of the tournament as a number 12 seed, beating fifth-seed Baylor 79-75.

Anything is possible in March Madness, and the school representing the Ivy League conference will be determined this weekend.

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