Preparations for Ivy Madness, the Ivy League’s inaugural postseason basketball tournament, are intensifying in the buildup to Saturday’s nationally televised event at the University of Pennsylvania. The Yale men’s basketball team will play Harvard in the third semifinal of the afternoon, which begins at 4 p.m.
Two weeks ago, the Ivy League released single-game tickets, which cost between $30 and $75 and provide access to all games on either Saturday or Sunday. In addition, the league distributed a limited allotment of tickets to campus ticket offices of qualifying teams: Princeton, Harvard, Yale and Penn on the men’s side, and Penn, Princeton, Harvard and Brown in the women’s tournament. Tournament books, which contain tickets to all six tournament games, have been on sale since early February.
Yale’s ticket office has 100 free single-game tickets available to current students, season ticket holders and donors to the basketball program on a first-come, first-served basis until 5 p.m. Thursday. The University is also providing round-trip bus transportation to Penn for $10.
“The athletic departments are always looking for new ways to expand and better their programs,” guard Trey Phills ’19 said. “A tournament brings along a new experience that adds to the overall enjoyment for both fans and players [and] gives teams that may have lost a few close games something to play for.”
Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris said the league implemented the tournament to create a more complete student-athlete experience and add excitement to the end of the season.
And the free tickets to Ivy Madness may appeal to Yale fans, who are drawn to the tournament for the unpredictability of postseason basketball.
“I’m thrilled that the Ivy League finally put in a conference tournament,” John Augustine ’18 said. “At the end of the day, the excitement and potential for upsets is what college basketball in March is all about, so I can’t wait to watch.”
However, other Yale students interviewed by the News were unaware about the creation of an Ivy League postseason basketball tournament. Teddy Mauze ’18 said he did not know about the new tournament format.
According to men’s head coach James Jones, the push for a postseason tournament began before he arrived at Yale 18 years ago. The playoff came to fruition after lobbying by members of athletic departments across the Ivy League in recent years, Jones said.
“The tournament benefits everybody,” Jones said. “There’s some kid in Idaho or Wyoming or California who’s never seen Yale play before. This will allow him to put a face to a name. It adds to our ability to be successful going forward and helps in recruiting.”
The Ivy Madness weekend will be filled with events for the Bulldogs. All teams involved are participating in an open shootaround for fans to attend on Friday, as well as closed shootarounds and practices. Coaching staff and athletic department members from all teams will participate in a reception on the floor of the Palestra, Penn’s storied gym, before the tournament begins.
Chris Vincent, Yale director of basketball operations, is busy preparing for the weekend, coordinating travel arrangements and preparing comprehensive scouting film on Harvard.
“There’s a lot of hands on deck for a tournament like this,” Vincent said. “It’s what we do for a road game, but to a higher extent. Obviously, you want everything to run smoothly leading up to the game.”
If Yale beats Harvard on Saturday afternoon, it will play the winner of the other men’s semifinal — either Princeton or Penn, who play at noon on Sunday — with an NCAA tournament berth on the line.
Nate Repensky contributed reporting.