Grading the inaugural Ivy League Tournament

After years of debating and voting on the efficacy of an Ivy League Tournament, the first one is in the books.

And it certainly has engendered much discussion amongst the Ivy faithful, given its prominence on the ESPN family of networks this past weekend (ESPNU for the semifinals and ESPN2 for the final).

From a national perspective, not so much, despite the fact that the venerable college basketball writer John Feinstein was one of the media members in attendance for the Saturday session. With that said, here is an attempt to grade the event in different categories:

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Penn all-time moment No. 7: Formation of the Philadelphia Big 5

The Big 5 is a Penn creation. It was conceived by Penn athletic director Jerry Ford and announced by University President Gaylord Harnwell at Houston Hall in 1954.  The Quaker sports staff then helped formulate the round robin format between Temple, St. Joes, Villanova, LaSalle and Penn.  Since that time Penn basketball really has had two seasons, the Ivy and the Big 5.  Of course the Ivy title provides the coveted entry to The Dance, but the Big 5 is often just as important. It is Philly bragging rights in a town that loves college basketball.  Most years, it was not at all unusual for four out of the five schools to make the NCAA Tournament; Such was the high level of play. Naturally the best intra-city hoops rivalry in the nation deserves a special place to perform and the Palestra is the perfect venue. No other arena in the country, despite their larger size and glitzy sterility, can possibly provide the intimacy for such historical competition.

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Wesley Saunders makes all the right plays … again

Wesley Saunders took over in the most critical half of the 2015 Ivy slate, reeling off a 9-0 run early in the second stanza and dishing the game-winning assist to fellow senior Steve Moundou-Missi. (Getty)
Wesley Saunders took over in the most critical half of the 2015 Ivy slate, reeling off a 9-0 run early in the second stanza and dishing the game-winning assist to fellow senior Steve Moundou-Missi. (Getty)

For a Pennsylvanian, albeit one with steadfast Tiger loyalties, The Palestra has always been college basketball’s showcase arena. May it ever be!!! Yesterday’s Ivy League playoff adds another memorable chapter to The Cathedral’s legendary history.

The announced attendance of 5,266 was far less than a capacity crowd, evidently diminished by bad weather and long-distance travel hurdles. But one must remember that this was easily the largest crowd to see an Ivy League game in several seasons.

The pregame mood was festive, but somewhat apprehensive as everyone understood that they were about to witness another hard fought, hand-to-hand street-fight likely to come down to the final possession, what Yogi Berra famously described as  “a real cliff-dweller.” This game delivered, in spades.

Read moreWesley Saunders makes all the right plays … again