The Mess of the Ivy League

Ivy League

The Ivy League is a mess once again. Entering last week, Cornell and Brown looked like the only two teams that had a clear advantage over the rest of the conference. Harvard appeared like it was dead in the water and Princeton was losing ground fast. Fast forward to Sunday, Harvard beat Cornell in Cambridge and Brown lost to Penn. Princeton continued to slide with a loss at Stony Brook, its second straight defeat. Coming into the year, it was widely thought that the Ivy could get as many as four teams into the NCAA Tournament. Right now, if Cornell wins the league AQ, it may just get either Princeton, Yale or Brown in, but probably not two and definitely not all three. Penn, another team I thought had a chance at getting an at-large bid, has a losing record and just one win over a top 20 team, a win that came this past weekend versus Brown. Penn still has opportunities against Harvard and against the fifth seed in the ACC, which will likely be Virginia. Even if Penn beats Harvard, Dartmouth, and then whichever team gets selected for the ACC showcase game, it’s unlikely they make the Tournament unless the Quakers can get to the Ivy League Championship game. Even still, the odds are not good that Penn makes it into the Ivy League Tournament. So, how do the Quakers make the Ivy Tournament? First here is the Ivy League standings:

Cornell 3-1

Princeton 2-1

Brown 2-1

Yale 2-2

Harvard 1-2

Dartmouth 1-2

Penn 1-3

This is one way Penn actually gets into the Tournament:

#1 Cornell 5-1 (beats Brown/Princeton)

#2 Brown 4-2 (beats Dartmouth/Yale, loses to Cornell)

#3 Penn 3-3 (beats Harvard/Dartmouth)

#4 Harvard 3-3 (loses to Penn, beats Yale/Princeton)

#5 Yale 2-4 (loses to Harvard, Brown)

#6 Dartmouth 2-4 (loses to Penn/Brown, beats Princeton)

#7 Princeton 2-4 (loses to Harvard/Cornell/Dartmouth)

There is a scenario where there could be a five-way tie for the second seed but because Penn has losses to Yale and Princeton it would be left out of the Ivy League Tournament. The five-way tie is an insane situation, so I’m not really going to get into it here. In the scenario above, Penn needs Princeton to finish at 2-4 to avoid a 3-3 tie with the Quakers, so the Tigers would have to lose to Harvard, Cornell, and Dartmouth. While I can’t see Princeton losing to all three, this year has been pretty unpredictable, so who really knows.

One thing to keep in mind, a team must have at least a .500 record to make the NCAA Tournament. Therefore, if Penn beats Harvard and Dartmouth it would sit at 6-6 with at least one Ivy League Tournament game and a game against the ACC fifth seed remaining, so it could not lose both of those two games because it would put them under .500 at 6-8. If the Quakers beat Harvard and Dartmouth, win its first round game, lose the championship game, and lose to the ACC fifth seed they would sit at 7-8. Basically, if the Quakers make it to the Ivy Tournament, and win its first round game they must win the Tournament or beat the ACC fifth seed in the ACC showcase game to even be eligible for the NCAAT.

No matter what, it is not probable that Penn makes the NCAA Tournament but there is still hope.

My Poll:

  1. Notre Dame – The Irish beat a Staats-less Syracuse two weeks ago in double overtime and then this week took down Duke 15-10, a team that Syracuse demolished 19-7. Shane Doss has been playing out of his mind in net recently, and adding the prolific offense of Notre Dame the Irish have to be one of the favorites to win the National Championship.
  2. Syracuse – Replacing Randy Staats with Tim Barber is a pretty big downgrade. Barber does not create offense like Staats can and it showed against the Irish two weeks ago. This past Thursday the Orange defeated Albany 17-12. The Great Danes had big problems getting possessions and turning the ball over. I thought Ben Williams was the difference maker, taking 24 of 27 faceoffs. You have to wonder if Williams doesn’t get possession after possession for the ‘Cuse, do the Orange still win that game? Maybe not.
  3. UNC – The Tar Heels took down fellow ACC member Virginia, 10-6. The offense looks great for UNC, Bitter and Sankey are quite the duo. North Carolina still has Syracuse and Notre Dame on the slate so they could finish 2-2 in-conference, but no matter what are guaranteed a spot in the ACC Tournament.
  4. Maryland – I understand that Maryland has beaten UNC this year, but it was a two goal game and I think that UNC is still better. The only other real challenge on the Terps’ schedule is Johns Hopkins at the end of the year. Maryland is the favorite to win the Big Ten Championship, by far.
  5. Denver – The only hiccups on the Pioneers’ resume are the loses at UNC and at Ohio State. Denver is 8-2 with wins over Duke and Notre Dame. DU should be able to win out against St. John’s, Providence, and Marquette. I expect Denver to take the Big East crown, as they may be the only NCAAT team in the league.
  6. Albany – I’m not sure the Great Danes are a top 10 team, but they put up a good fight against the Orange on Thursday. Lyle Thompson and Connor Fields are studs offensively, but the defense gives up way too many shots. Not to mention the faceoff game is almost nonexistent. If Albany makes the Tournament it will not go far, they still don’t have a complete team yet.
  7. Duke – The Blue Devils have now lost three straight, but you can’t fault them for losing to Syracuse, UNC, and Notre Dame. That being said, the way they lost to Syracuse was humiliating. The Blue Devils need to find a way to get Myles Jones back to his early season self as he has been almost unnoticeable on the field over the last three games. Danny Fowler is now starting in goal over Luke Aaron who started the season. Duke and Virginia are fighting for that final spot in the ACC Tournament, and they will play this week.
  8. Virginia – Who has Virginia lost to? Syracuse, Notre Dame, and UNC. On the other side, UVA has beaten Loyola, Cornell, and Hopkins. The Cavaliers are a Tournament team, but a loss to Duke this week would leave them out of the ACCT and into a showcase game with Penn, a game that could only hurt them. Matt Barrett has been one of the shining stars for UVA, playing unreal against UNC last weekend. He is hot right now so watch out.
  9. Stony Brook – Finally Stony Brook has a top 20 win. The Seawolves took down Princeton 13-10 on Saturday. Stony Brook is 9-2, but Albany is still going to take the America East Conference so the Seawolves may need to go 4-1 over its next five. I would be ok with a loss to Duke but a loss to anyone else would almost kill its NCAA Tournament hopes.
  10. Cornell – Two big Ivy League games remain for Cornell, and if it wants that #1 seed it needs to at least win one versus Brown and Princeton. The loss to Harvard last weekend was a little troubling, I thought the Big Red were better than that. Canisius and Hofstra are up this week.
  11. Army – I’m pulling Army up to the #11 spot this week after taking its third win in a row on Saturday. Granted the three in a row have come against Lehigh, Bucknell, and Boston University, but still this is a good team. Army lost to Syracuse by three, Holy Cross by one, and Loyola by two. All three of those defeats are against teams that at one point this season were in the top twenty.
  12. Brown – Brown lost to Penn last week. Penn is not that great but the Bears have wins over Harvard and Princeton. Dylan Molloy is maybe the most effective scorer in the country.
  13. Ohio State – I’m almost ready to forgive the Buckeyes for getting blanked against Notre Dame. The Irish are that good. OSU is 9-3 with wins over Denver, Towson, and Hopkins, but it seems like everyone is beating Hopkins this year. There is a chance that Ohio State could pose a significant challenge to Maryland in the Big Ten, otherwise it’s the Terps’ league to lose.
  14. Towson – The Tigers have put together a nice little resume. Wins over Hopkins and Georgetown will help them come selection time. The losses to Loyola, Navy, and Ohio State should hurt them that much. It may not matter though, because if Towson doesn’t get the Colonial AQ, I couldn’t tell you who will. The Tigers have Fairfield, Hofstra, and Drexel left on the schedule, all conference games, so they all have big significance.
  15. Yale – Yale is 8-2 with wins over Maryland and Penn. The two losses to Cornell and Princeton shouldn’t hurt the Bulldogs too much but there is still a chance this team doesn’t make the Ivy Tournament, which could spell disaster for its post-season hopes.
  16. Georgetown – Oh sneaky Georgetown… Two weeks ago the Hoyas finally entered the rankings for the first time this season. Georgetown does not have a bad loss, but doesn’t really have a great win either. The Hoyas are ninth in RPI and 14th in SOS, but I still think they have to make it to the Big East Championship game to get into the Tournament, or put up a big win over Virginia in two weeks.
  17. Princeton – The Tigers continued to slide with a loss to Stony Brook. It’s looking more and more like Princeton won’t make the national tournament, but they still have games against Harvard and Cornell to boost the resume.
  18. Marquette – Marquette lost to Bellarmine and beat St. John’s last week. Bellarmine? I don’t even know what state that school is in. Turns out the school is in Kentucky and has lost to such powerhouses as Detroit, Furman, and Mercer, granted they did take Ohio State to a one goal loss. Still though, you can’t lose to a team that’s only other two wins are over Robert Morris and VMI, two programs that have a combined record of 1-20. Marquette has been known for playing tight games but come on.
  19. Johns Hopkins – I’m so sick of this team. The talent is there, quite frankly prior to the season I would never have guessed the Jays would be sitting at 4-6 at this point in the season. Simply put, they just haven’t won a tough game all year. Even if Hopkins wins out, putting them at 7-6 entering the Big Ten Tournament, this team would still be on the cusp of making it. I have a lot of respect for Coach Pietramala but at a certain point, especially with the level of talent on this team, you have to start looking at the coach.
  20. Loyola – Yea, I’m going to let them back in. The Greyhounds are 6-5, and barring a run through the Patriot League, I can’t imagine this team makes the NCAAT.