Weeks after the decision was expected, no new information has come forward as to whether Ivy League men’s basketball will add a postseason tournament.
Last month, a member of the basketball coaching staff, who asked to remain anonymous, told the News that administrators at all eight Ivy League colleges were holding meetings to decide if a tournament for coming seasons would be approved. At Yale, the decision had already been approved by Director of Athletics Tom Beckett and men’s basketball head coach James Jones but not yet by University President Peter Salovey, according to the coaching staff member. Although a decision was expected before the end of the year, according to the coach and other media outlets including CBS Sports, there have been no official announcements from the Ivy League as of yet.
“At this time, there is no information to share on that topic,” Associate Executive Director for Communications and External Relations Scottie Rodgers said on Saturday evening.
Additionally, members of the Yale men’s basketball coaching staff, including Jones, did not have updated information on an Ivy League tournament. Assistant coach Matthew Kingsley noted that at this time, no one involved with the basketball program could outline when a decision would be made or announced.
Athletics administrators at other Ivy League schools also did not comment on the details of a potential tournament. Beckett could not be reached for comment Monday.
Despite the uncertain nature of the postseason tournament, both players and coaches said the team is not thinking about a possible announcement and is instead focusing on the ongoing season.
This season, the Elis were selected as the Ivy League preseason favorite for the first time in the 31 years of the league media poll. Ivy play began two weekends ago for the Bulldogs, who currently sport an 11–5 overall record, as well as a 2–0 mark in conference action.
“I am sure the guys on the team who will be returning would be interested to hear what the plans are for the coming years, but in reality everyone is just focused on this year,” captain and guard Jack Montague ’16 said.
Forward Brandon Sherrod ’16 expressed a similar view, and said he does not think an announcement is needed now that the team has already gotten underway with its Ivy League schedule.
Although in a December interview Kingsley said he believed the team would almost unanimously welcome a conference tournament, players interviewed acknowledged potential disadvantages.
“Not having a conference tournament is one of the unique features of Ivy League basketball,” Sherrod said. “Additionally, the Ivy League prides itself on tradition.”
Montague added that a postseason tournament could also lead to upset victories that send potentially less-deserving teams to the NCAA Tournament, and that it would take away some of the importance of regular season games.
Currently, of the 32 Division-I men’s basketball conferences, only the Ivy League does not hold a tournament at the conclusion of its regular season, meaning the winner of the regular season gets an automatic bid to March Madness. The implementation of a postseason tournament would mean that the winner of that tournament would instead receive the berth.
Should the regular season champion not win the postseason tournament, it could potentially open up the possibility of the Ivy League earning two bids to the NCAA Tournament. One would go to the postseason champion and an “at-large” bid could potentially be offered to the regular season winner if the NCAA Selection Committee deemed the team deserving. This chance of the Ancient Eight becoming a “two-bid conference” was one benefit Yale players recognized.
Beyond the chance at two bids, a postseason tournament would guarantee that the regular season champion would earn at least a berth in the National Invitation Tournament. Although Yale earned a share of the Ivy League championship last season, it was not guaranteed an NIT bid because of the lack of a conference tournament, resulting in the Bulldogs’ absence from postseason play.
Yale shared the Ivy championship honors with Harvard in 2014–15, with the Crimson earning the automatic NCAA bid in a one-game playoff.