The Princeton men were handed the lowest seed handed to an Ivy since Penn was disrespected with a No. 16 seed in 2018, while the Columbia women were deprived of a NCAA Tournament berth altogether despite a top-50 NET ranking.
No. 6 Harvard registered the first win for an Ivy League team in the NIT in 17 years courtesy of a balanced scoring effort, turning in a 71-68 win at Georgetown.
Despite trailing 54-49 with 11:52 to play, the Crimson (19-11) fought back, overcoming a 5-for-24 (20.8 percent) shooting effort from deep at McDonough Arena for their postseason win since 2014, when the Crimson upset Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament.
The host Lions doubled up the Spartans in the first half, 42-21, and never looked back. Luke Petrasek shook off a late-season scoring slump to lead all scorers with 18 points in just 24 minutes, with Petrasek and Maodo Lo each hitting four treys to give the Lions an easy first-round CIT win. The Spartans got outscored 48-6 from three-point range, and that was pretty much the ballgame. Here’s Columbia Athletics’ explanation of what happens next in the crazy CIT process:
Princeton (22-6, 12-2 Ivy) was projected by Big Apple Buckets analyst John Templon to get a No. 4 seed in the National Invitational Tournament, but the Tigers got a No. 6 seed instead, setting them up to travel to No. 3 Virginia Tech (19-14, 10-8 ACC) for a matchup with the Hokies Wednesday at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.
Princeton enters as the road team despite having a RPI of 39 and Virginia Tech having a RPI of 90, and both teams having virtually identical KenPom rankings (66 for Princeton, 63 for Virginia Tech).
The Tigers turned down a CBI bid after finishing 16-14 last season, and the women Tigers got a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament after going undefeated in the regular season a year ago.
With only four games to play, five Ivy teams have a good shot of finishing the season with a winning record. Unfortunately for Columbia, the bad computer numbers, lack of quality wins and disappointing conference record will keep the Lions off the court in mid-March. For the league”s top half, let”s take a look at what could be in store after the final Ivy weekend:
Harvard: The Crimson remain heavy favorites to win the league outright. A sweep at home this weekend would virtually end all doubt regarding Harvard”s ultimate March destination. A split that includes a victory over Penn would probably do the trick too. IHO says: The Crimson are headed to the Big Dance.
Penn: The 15-11 (7-2) Quakers have a pretty comparable profile to the second-placed Princeton team from 2010. Those Tigers (RPI #133) finished 20-8 with a significantly weaker strength of schedule as this year”s Quakers and were invited to the CBI, where they knocked off Duquesne and IUPUI before falling to Saint Louis. This Penn team is on track to finish in second in a significantly better league, has better computer numbers (RPI #108) , a Top 100 win in the victory over Saint Joe”s, and the draw of one of the country”s best point guards in Zack Rosen. If you”re a Penn fan with NIT hopes, you may be out
of luck. Last year”s NIT at-large selections had an average RPI of 67 with Nebraska squeezing in with the worst RPI at #89. The CBI, on the other hand, took teams with an average RPI of 119 last year. While the CBI is a bit more unpredictable with the pay-to-play format, Penn still seems like a good fit as a road team, or even a home team if they”re willing to put up the cash. IHO says: Zack Rosen and the Quakers will play on into March in the CBI.