The Yale men’s basketball team’s season ended this weekend with a 87–81 double-overtime win at Columbia and a 68–55 loss at Cornell, but the John J. Lee Amphitheater will host one more Ivy League contest.
The Princeton Tigers (24–6, 12–2 Ivy) will face off with the Harvard Crimson (23–5, 12–2) Saturday at 4 p.m. on Yale’s campus in the John J. Lee Amphitheater. The game will determine which team will gain the Ivy League’s automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament.
Princeton’s 70–58 win at Penn Tuesday night meant that the Crimson and Tigers each earn a share of the Ivy League championship. However, this presents a dilemma. Because the Ivy League does not have a conference tournament, it sends its regular season champion to the NCAA Tournament. In the case of two regular season champions, a tie-breaking game is held to determine the recipient of the automatic bid.
New Haven is a logical choice for the matchup, as it is a neutral site. In addition, as somewhat of a midway point, the location allows for fans of each team to travel to the game.
Saturday’s game will be the third matchup between Princeton and Harvard. The Tigers won the first game 65–61 at home in early February. But Harvard got revenge on Saturday with a 79–67 victory in Cambridge. The Bulldogs fell twice to Princeton this year and split the season series with Harvard. Because Princeton had a better record against Yale, the third place team, it is technically the home team.
This weekend’s game has historical implications for the Crimson. Harvard is looking for its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1946. Princeton has fared better as of late, last qualifying for the Big Dance in 2004. Last year’s Ivy League representative, Cornell, made waves by pulling a couple upsets and making the Sweet Sixteen. Despite the Ivy League’s success in last year’s NCAA Tournament and the expansion of the field to 68, it is unlikely that the loser of Saturday’s matchup will qualify for an at-large bid. This makes the game even more important for each team.
Yale was involved in the last tie, a three-way one in 2002. Although the Bulldogs were knocked out of consideration by Princeton, they still received an invitation to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). This year, it is uncertain if the loser will receive a similar invitation.
Saturday’s matchup will be televised on ESPN3.com. Tickets can be purchased through the Harvard and Princeton ticket offices.