BASKETBALL: Harvard to host 2022 Ivy Madness, Princeton to follow in 2023 in delayed rotation
The Ivy League is moving its originally announced hosting schedule for Ivy Madness back by two years after consecutive seasons in which COVID-19 canceled the postseason tournament.
William McCormack, Contributing Photographer
After a two-year hiatus, the Ivy League’s men’s and women’s conference basketball tournaments, known as Ivy Madness, are set to resume next year at Harvard’s Lavietes Pavilion, the Ivy League confirmed with the News.
In an email to the News, a spokesperson for the league said it will return to its originally planned hosting schedule starting in 2022. A February 2019 announcement from the conference introducing that schedule stated that the tournament would rotate across Ancient Eight campuses — Princeton, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth and Columbia will follow as hosts after Harvard in subsequent years. That press release formalized the future of the league’s new postseason basketball tournament, which was introduced in 2016. Harvard was set to host the tournament in 2020 before its cancellation due to COVID-19 concerns.
The Ivy League has not made a public statement on Ivy Madness since announcing its cancellation almost exactly a year ago. The league released a statement in early November announcing the cancellation of winter sports but did not provide an update on the next site to host the tournament — consecutive cancellations had led to a lack of clarity regarding future host sites for the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Athletics communications representatives from Harvard and Princeton directed the News to the Ivy League.
“My initial reaction is that it makes sense,” said Yale men’s basketball captain and guard Jalen Gabbidon ’22, who is currently taking a gap year. “[The return to Harvard in 2022] actually excites me personally, because we were ready last year and we’re going to be ready next year.”
Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams were slated to participate in Ivy Madness last year. The women’s team ended the season with a tight 60–58 win over Harvard and entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed, while the men’s team had won its first outright regular season title since 2016 and was set to enter the tournament as the No. 1 seed. Only 12 of 32 NCAA Division I conferences fully completed their postseason men’s basketball tournaments, while 13 had completed women’s basketball tournaments prior to the cancellation of collegiate sports last March.
In the three seasons that Ivy Madness has been held, a member of the Ancient Eight has been the host, with Penn’s Palestra holding the first two iterations in 2017 and 2018 and Yale’s John J. Lee Amphitheater hosting in 2019. Each conference handles their tournament differently, with some, like the Big East, moving to large neutral locations like Madison Square Garden. Others may elect to give higher seeds home-court advantage.
In the conference’s original 2019 press release, Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris explained the decision to host the tournament on campuses: “Each Ivy League campus presents its own aura and distinctive traits. With this rotation, we look forward to sharing the atmosphere and energy of our basketball tournaments with each of our campus communities and giving all of our devoted fanbases an opportunity to experience Ivy Madness in their own venue.”
In 2019, the Yale men entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed. The league had announced New Haven as the conference’s host location the year prior. In the championship game against Harvard, which was officially listed as the home team given the Crimson’s No. 1 seed, the News reported an “active” crowd and chants of “this is our house!” coming from the JLA student section during the Yale win. While the Harvard women’s team did not qualify for 2020 Ivy Madness, the Harvard men’s side saw roles reversed from 2019. Harvard was scheduled to enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed, setting up a potential finals showdown with the top-seeded Bulldogs.
“[Harvard’s arena] is smaller. … So it could get really loud,” Gabbidon said. “They will likely have some fans there, but we will also have some fans coming, as well.”
Lavietes Pavilion, which hosts both men’s and women’s basketball at Harvard, has a capacity of only 1,636 people. The Bulldogs’ home court at John J. Lee Amphitheater seats around 2,800.
At the time of the original announcement, Harvard men’s basketball head coach Tommy Amaker was quoted in The Crimson echoing a similar sentiment: “We’re going to do our best to have a wonderful tournament atmosphere when we have it here.”
Despite his excitement about the return to Harvard, Gabbidon told the News that “we are not concerned about where we play. The only thing that matters … is that you’re the better team. Which we’re confident we will be.”
Brown was originally scheduled to host Ivy Madness in 2022.
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