Ivy Hoops Online writers offer commentary on the Ivy League’s scheduling changes for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, announced Tuesday:
I was pleased and relieved by the announced schedule. I had concerns the league would move Saturday games to Sunday afternoon, which I felt would lessen attendance and viewership. The actual changes preserves Friday/Saturday games (except the Martin Luther King Jr. Day games) and removes the unpopular back-to-back travel partner opening games.
The changes maintain the historic nature of the back-to-back weekends, while allowing the athletes several single-game weekends to rest and have more available time for academics. It will be interesting to compare the participants’ feedback. as well as the quality of the games and attendance in the three different scenarios (back-to-back, Saturday-Monday & single games) for any future changes.
Stretching the schedule to 10 weeks shouldn’t be a problem, since the Penn and Princeton men have started the first Saturday after New Year over the last four seasons. While student attendance may suffer the first two weekends, the new schedule will provide a level playing field with all teams playing conference games on the same days.
The schedule will thankfully force teams to schedule more games over the first two months and eliminate the empty time of early January. The four two-game weekends will unfortunately create an imbalanced schedule, but it seems to be a fair trade off when dealing with the changes the stakeholders wanted.
With this settled for the next two years, the league should spend time reviewing its earlier decisions on the Ivy Tournament and finding a way to stop ESPN from moving the start of certain Friday night games to the too-early time of 5:00.
As a traditionalist, I already miss the 14-Game Tournament, so I’m naturally inclined to dislike this newest change from the start. The back-to-backs are the thing that makes the Ivy League unique, and it seems like stretching 14 games over 10 weeks just isn’t a lot of basketball. Will they try to sneak nonconference games in those gaps? Against whom (except for Penn, of course)? Trying to see if Yale or Harvard could back up a Friday night win on the Upper West Side with a gutsy victory in Ithaca 24 hours later is just something you don’t get from any other conference and I will miss it on the weekends it doesn’t exist anymore.
With that being said, I know at least a plurality of the Ivy coaches hate the back-to-backs, from both a logistical and a preparation standpoint. Assistants stay up all night on Fridays putting together scouting reports and playing two straight days in different cities is not conducive to players performing at a high level. Playing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a nice touch and the single game weekends will allow everyone to get more rest and allow the competition to be stronger night in and night out.