Small Conference Game of the Day – March 1

For years, the Ivy League regular season championship and automatic bid came down to Penn and Princeton.  From 1989 through 2007, no team other than Penn or Princeton won the Ivy.  In fact, from 1969 through 2007, there were only two seasons in which one of the two powers did not win it (Brown 1986 and Cornell 1988).  In 2008, Cornell won the first of three straight titles, before Princeton returned to the top spot in 2011, winning a one game playoff over Tommy Amaker’s Harvard team.  Last season the Harvard Crimson captured the championship and advanced to their first NCAA tournament since 1946 — what had been the longest drought among teams with at least one prior appearance.

Tonight, the SCGD turns to the Ivy League for a game that could all but clinch a second straight NCAA tournament bid for Harvard…or set up a chance for another one game playoff to decide the bid.  Harvard, 9-1 in the Ivy and 17-7 overall, travels to Princeton, 7-2 in the Ivy and 14-9 overall, for a 7:00 PM Eastern tip-off on ESPNU.  With a win, Harvard will need a combination of 2 wins and/or Princeton losses the rest of the way to wrap up the bid — something that could happen as early as Saturday night if Harvard can also win at Penn and Princeton loses to Dartmouth.  Even if Harvard does not wrap the bid up on Saturday, they have two games left next weekend, while Princeton would have three more games to play after this weekend.

A Princeton win, on the other hand, will create a tie in the loss column between the two teams.  Princeton would be a half game behind in the standings solely due to the fact that they have an extra game left to play (Tuesday March 12 against Penn).  Given that both teams will be favored in the remainder of their games, barring an upset the two teams would be on track to face off for a third time in a one game playoff that would probably occur on Saturday March 16.

Harvard has put together a solid season so far this year, including wins at Boston College and at California.  They have stumbled a few times though, including a home loss to Vermont and a loss at Columbia.  Princeton’s best win of the season was over Patriot League regular season champion Bucknell.  However, they have had more than their share of bad losses, including Wagner, Fordham, Drexel, and Yale.

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