Yale Athletics

The Bulldogs have secured a spot in Ivy Madness. Now it’s a matter of who they’ll play in the tournament’s first round.

Yale (18–8, 9–2 Ivy) fell to Cornell (20–5, 9–2 Ivy) 65–62 on Friday night in Ithaca, but still clinched a spot due to other results around the league. On Saturday, they bounced back with an 84–76 victory over Columbia.

Against Cornell, the Elis committed 13 turnovers and made just 11 of 26 free-throw attempts. Guard John Poulakidas ’25 was fouled on a three-point attempt with one second remaining and Yale down three, but missed two of the three potentially game-tying free-throw attempts. Even after recovering the ball after the missed shot, an errant pass leading to an over-and-back violation handed the ball back to Cornell, closing out the game.

The game was arguably Yale’s most important of the season thus far, as a win would have cemented them at first place in the Ivy standings and likely the first seed in the tournament, too.

“We had opportunities down the stretch but didn’t take advantage,” head coach James Jones said. “In a league game, you can’t shoot the way we did from the free-throw line and expect to win.”

Now, Yale is tied for first place with both Princeton (21–3, 9–2 Ivy) and Cornell. They are unlikely to get the first seed in the four-team Ivy tournament due to the league’s tiebreaker rules

A three-team tie is first determined on the basis of cumulative record against other tied teams. Yale is 1–1 against Princeton and Cornell, and Cornell is 1–0 against Princeton with a game against them on Saturday. If Cornell wins, they’d hold the tiebreaker over Yale. If Princeton wins, each team would still be tied on the basis of cumulative record and the league would determine the tiebreaker on the basis of cumulative record against the next highest seeded team. 

But since both Yale and Princeton are unbeaten against every team besides Cornell, the league would move to the next tiebreaker, which would be the NCAA’s NET rankings

As of Monday night, Yale is 82nd in the rankings and Princeton is 51st, so the Tigers would all but certainly earn the first seed in that scenario.

Assuming Yale wins all three of their remaining games, they’d need Princeton or Cornell to lose an additional game beyond the Princeton-Cornell matchup on Saturday.

With that unlikely to happen, the Elis should prepare to face one of either Princeton or Cornell in the first round of the Ivy Tournament, which they must win in order to make the NCAA tournament. 

Still, Yale is a threatening team with capable players on offense and defense. In addition to star forward Danny Wolf ’26, who scored 20 points on 9-15 shooting Saturday night, Poulakidas and guard August Mahoney ’24 are shooting over 40 percent from deep and averaging 12.8 and 10 points per game, respectively. Forward Matt Knowling ’24 gives the Bulldogs a steady source of efficient scoring from around the rim, having scored in double-digits in every Ivy League game he’s played.

On defense, guard Bez Mbeng ’25, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is putting together another terrific campaign. Swing-forward Casey Simmons ’26 brings length and athleticism to Yale’s perimeter defense in addition to his expanding offensive role.

Yale’s next matchup will come against last place Dartmouth this Friday in Payne Whitney Gymnasium.

Ben Raab covers faculty and academics at Yale and writes about the Yale men's basketball team. Originally from New York City, Ben is a sophomore in Pierson college pursuing a double major in history and political science.