After a crazy first full weekend of conference play, a definite separation has developed between Princeton, Harvard and Yale and the remainder of the league .
1) Princeton 8-0 (wins versus Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Penn x 2)
T-2) Yale 6-2 (wins versus Columbia, Penn, Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown x 2)
T-2) Harvard 6-2 (wins versus Yale, Brown, Penn, Cornell, Dartmouth x 2)
4) Columbia 4-4 (wins versus Harvard, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth)
T-5) Brown 2-6 (wins versus Penn, Cornell)
T-5) Penn 2-6 (wins versus Columbia, Cornell)
T-5) Cornell 2-6 (wins versus Columbia, Dartmouth)
T-5) Dartmouth 2-6 (wins versus Brown, Penn)
Looking at the standings, nine wins will give a team an automatic spot in the four-team postseason tournament. At this time, Princeton is one win away, while Yale and Harvard are three away. Barring a complete collapse from any of these teams, three quarters of the tournament are close to being set.
Despite being swept by Penn and Princeton this past weekend, Columbia still has the upper hand for the last spot in the tournament since the Lions have a two-game lead and is the only remaining team that can get to nine victories. If Columbia cannot win at least five of its last six, then things get more complicated.
Columbia – at Harvard, at Dartmouth, vs Princeton, vs Penn, at Brown, at Yale (3 vs Top 3; 3 vs Bottom 5)
Brown – vs Penn, vs Princeton, at Dartmouth, at Harvard, vs Columbia, vs Cornell (2 vs Top 3; 4 vs Bottom 5)
Penn – at Brown, at Yale, at Cornell, at Columbia, vs Dartmouth, vs Harvard (2 vs Top 3; 4 vs Bottom 5)
Cornell – at Dartmouth, at Harvard, vs Penn, vs Princeton, at Yale, at Brown (3 vs Top 3; 3 vs Bottom 5)
Dartmouth – vs Cornell, vs Columbia, vs Brown, vs Yale, at Penn, at Princeton (2 vs Top 3; 4 vs Bottom 5)
2) Record against highest seeds outside of tie
3) Average rating from a variety of indices agreed to by the coaches
4) Coin flip
At this time, Columbia holds tiebreaker No. 2 due to its victory over Harvard. Penn holds tiebreaker No. 3, since it has the highest ranking among RPI, KenPom, Sagarin and BPI. In all of these indices, the Quakers are followed by Columbia, Brown, Cornell and Dartmouth.
Right now, the simplest answers for the last spot are these:
If Columbia gets 10 or nine wins (6-0 or 5-1 over the last six games), the Lions get the fourth spot, no matter what the other four teams do.
If Penn gets to eight wins (6-0 over the last six games), then the Quakers get the fourth spot if Columbia is handed at least one other loss by a team besides Penn.
If Columbia gets to eight wins and Penn does not win out, then Cornell is the only other team that could get eight wins and take tiebreaker No. 2 from the Lions. With three top three victories for an 8-6 Cornell, the Lions would still claim tiebreaker Nos. 2 or 3 if they could win at least two of its three remaining top three contests.
Since 7-7 and 6-8 is much more confusing for my simple brain, I will leave those scenarios alone for now.
With this weekend’s games, lower-division teams with 1-0 series leads will look to close out its opponent to gain the upper hand in the first tiebreaker for any season-ending tie. For those teams facing a top three foe, there will be added incentive to claim a victory and help themselves with respect to the second tiebreaker.
While no one will be officially eliminated by the end of the weekend, any of the 2-6 teams that are swept will be at a huge (or YUGE, according to one Penn alumnus) disadvantage and, most likely, one loss away from looking at a long offseason.
The next few weeks of Ivy play will resemble late-season professional sports, where a large amount of the focus will be on the teams looking trying to make the cut. While this may disappoint fans of the top few teams, there is potential for greater league-wide intensity and fan excitement as each school will have a say in who makes it to the Palestra for the Ivy League Tournament starting March 11.