Ivy League tournament puts less emphasis on regular season


For the past few years Princeton coach Courtney Banghart was nervous before the Penn game.  

The Ivy League championship had come down to those two teams and losing the first one of their two meetings in early January would leave little margin of error for the rest of the 14-game conference season. Now with the league holding its first-ever postseason tournament, losing the opener to Penn on Saturday isn't as bad as it used to be. Well of course except for losing to your rival that is.  

"You got two chances and they knock you out once, you're playing behind the whole rest of the year and someone knocks them off and all that crap," Banghart said after the 62-57 loss to their rival. "I said before the game to Mike (McLaughlin) I haven't been so unnervous for an Ivy League basketball game in 20 years."  

Both coaches love the idea of the postseason tournament, which will be held at the historic Palestra in March with the top four teams playing in it. Even though Saturday's game may not have had the postseason implications of previous years, the rivalry is still flourishing.  

"It's just different, but I don't think it makes it any less special than it is," Penn coach McLaughlin said. "This was a really important game — it's been for both of us — I think it took away the onus of this is something you have to get, this is important, her and I did talk about that, but every conference is like that, they have playoffs, but that doesn't take away what's important."  

The postseason tournament also gives hope to all the teams in the league. One bad weekend won't destroy postseason aspirations.  

"The tournament allows a little room for error early," first-year Columbia coach Megan Griffith said. "It allows teams that are maturing the chance to do that. You hope you're playing your best basketball in March and this allows you to have potentially one bad weekend early on."  

Griffith played at Columbia and also was an assistant at Princeton for the last few years when they dominated the league. She doesn't see this year's Ivy League being a one-team race.  

"I don't think .500 would be a terrible record in our league this season," she said. "Nobody's going to be perfect. I think honestly this season a team that goes .500 has a chance to be fourth place or tied for it."  

Penn has the best shot at running through the league as the Quakers return all five starters from last season's championship team. Yet, they will face potential challenges from Princeton and Harvard, which went 11-1 in the non-conference season and is led by two stellar freshmen.  

The Crimson won their first league game by five points over rival Dartmouth.  

The rest of the Ivy League gets underway next weekend.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Coach gives key reason why Jalen Hurts might have edge over Tua Tagovailoa in Alabama QB competition
Coach gives key reason why Jalen Hurts might have edge over Tua Tagovailoa in Alabama QB competition

Jalen Hurts’ future at Alabama has been a hot topic lately, and curiosity is growing about whether the quarterback w ill remain in Tuscaloosa throughout the coming season. But an anonymous college coach explained why the junior might have the edge over Tua Tagovailoa in the Crimson Tide’s competition to see who will...
Tennessee football podcast: Vols fans willing to ante up for titles
Tennessee football podcast: Vols fans willing to ante up for titles

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer makes it very clear when he talks to his coaches   that they are expected to compete for titles, and will make sure they have what they need. “What do you need — not what do you want —   but what do you need to compete in the Southeastern...
NFL scout ranks Baker Mayfield behind Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen: ‘He’s not a top-10 player’
NFL scout ranks Baker Mayfield behind Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen: ‘He’s not a top-10 player’

One anonymous NFL scout says Baker Mayfield isn’t a top-10 player in the 2018 NFL Draft and actually ranks him last among the top group of quarterbacks as well. Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman asked one scout to rank the top 10 players in the draft. Mayfield wasn’t included in that list, but the other four quarterbacks...
College basketball panel calls for strict NCAA reform
College basketball panel calls for strict NCAA reform

NCAA men’s basketball needs to be cleaned up, but the answer shouldn’t be paying players, according to a 60-page report released Wednesday by  The Commission on College Basketball. The commission, led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was formed by the NCAA in response to a federal...
How running back Henry Geil turned Iowa State visit into Iowa commitment
How running back Henry Geil turned Iowa State visit into Iowa commitment

Land of 10 has embarked on a series of Next Generation articles, a project that aims to bring our readers greater insight into the Class of 2018 signees. Land of 10 Iowa writers Scott Dochterman and Bobby La Gesse are visiting the Iowa incoming freshman class to show you more than its 40-yard dash times and recruiting...
More Stories