Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Just Watching . . .

The Princeton and Penn women's basketball teams will play their season-finale tonight with the bid to the NCAA Tournament going to the winner. Here's an unintentionally ironic line from the Ivy League release about the game:
The only thing more compelling than a 14-Game Tournament is a one-game tournament.
So true.

More from the release:
It is just the second time in Ivy League history that the season finale is also a one game tournament for the Ivy title . . .
One game with so much on the line is pretty rare according to the Ivy League release. Of course, while it's almost unheard of in the Ivy League, it's rare nowhere else.

Every single league in the country comes down to one final game, every single year, EXCEPT the Ivy League.

It's called a postseason tournament.

Writing about the Princeton-Penn game, old friend (and staunch advocate of the current system) Tiger Blog says, "It figures to be quite an event. Winner-take-all usually is."

Absolutely true, TB. There's unmatched drama when everything is on the line in a one-bid league like the Ivy. Or the MAAC. 

I watched Manhattan and Iona play for the MAAC bid last night on ESPN2 and while I couldn't name a single player on either team, I couldn't take my eyes off it. Now imagine if I had a rooting interest.

More importantly, imagine how much more thrilling that nationally televised game was for the players than if they learned they heard they won the title while busing home from a game with a week to go in the season. When that happens do they get off the bus in Cambridge or Princeton and go inside the darkened gym to cut down the nets with the custodian looking on?

One game for all the marbles, as the Ancient Eight release said, is "more compelling than a 14-Game Tournament."


Consider the Ivy League hoisted on its own petard.
In case you are curious what all the fuss is all about, the Patriot League men's championship game is on CBS Sports Network tomorrow night at 7:30 featuring No. 1 seed Boston University playing host to No. 2 seed American. Tune in to see what Ivy League players and fans are missing. Go ahead. I dare you.

Editor's Note: Regarding the Ivy League concern that a postseason tournament devalues the regular season, consider this from the PL release after the semifinals of a tournament structured to make the regular season meaningful:
BU's win coupled with American's victory means higher seeds are 46-2 in the Patriot League semifinals, and home teams are 27-3 overall and 19-1 in the last 10 years.
Unfortunately, Ivy League basketball teams – like Ivy football teams when the NCAA playoffs start – will be just watching.
Columbia has joined Penn in starting spring football already and is practicing outside. Here's a photo. Dartmouth doesn't begin until April 8, which is a good thing. We're in line for another foot or so of snow tonight.
Nice story on the Patriot League website about former Lafayette linebacker and special teams player Sam Stuart, who stumbled across a football team practicing while in China for graduate school and ending up coaching the Beijing Cyclones.