Ivy 2017-18 Tournament Preview

- Ky McKeon

(Compare to our preseason preview here)

Season Recap:

Biggest Storylines:

  • Not a Great Year - Per KenPom, this was the weakest Ivy League since 2010, a possible consequence of an overall younger conference (ZERO seniors made the actual Ivy League teams). We've become accustomed to Ivy schools earning 12 and 13 seeds in the Dance in recent years, but this year looks like we'll see one of the brainiacs on the 15 or 16 line. The talent is there for all four of the postseason squads, but the consistency isn't quite yet.
  • Quaker Shaker - Penn took home its first share of the Ivy League crown since 2007 ending a 7-year stretch where the winner of the Ivy was just Princeton, Yale, or Harvard (Cornell won it 2008 - 2010). Sophomore big man AJ Brodeur dominated the conference on both ends of the floor and fellow sophomore Ryan Betley was third in the league in 3P%. Steve Donahue's squad was the class of the conference all year long and stand the best chance at notching anything higher than a 16-seed.
  • P.U. Princeton - Take a rinse Tigers, you stink! Princeton finished 13-16 this season, the first losing season of Mitch Henderson's coaching tenure and first since 2009. To be fair, the Tigers lost 4 key seniors off their 2017 Tourney squad, but that doesn't totally explain the fact that Henderson's squad dropped from 45th to 231st in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom.
  • Harvard? - The Crimson were thought by many in the preseason (including myself) to have an outside shot at competing for an at-large bid this season. Tommy Amaker's star-studded recruiting class entered its second season, but failed to live up to the hype. Losses to Holy Cross, Manhattan, CS Fullerton, Wofford, and GW put the Crimson in a hole entering conference play. Ironically, Harvard was 6-7 with their stud PG Bryce Aiken and 10-5 during his absence. But hey, they still won the league.

Tourney Preview

Only 4 teams make the Ivy League Tourney... it's better than not having a Tournament. Also, I couldn't find an Ivy bracket pic, so I ripped this from CBS Sports...


What to Watch:

  • Despite my bashing of Harvard up top (and the fact that Bryce Aiken is still likely injured), the Crimson are one of the hottest teams in the Ivy right now, winning 8 of their last nine contests (only loss was to Penn). This team was picked to win the league for a reason in the preseason - nobody can match the raw talent Harvard can throw out on the floor on a given night.

  • The Tourney is held at the Palestra, one of the most storied venues in all of college basketball. This is also where Penn plays its home games, a natural advantage especially in a 4-team tournament. It feels right to have the Ivy Tourney in the Palestra, but I'm sure Harvard has a little beef with Penn getting home court advantage after sharing the league title. Will the home crowd propel the Quakers to the Big Dance?

  • Cornell is the surprise postseason team, edging out Princeton and Columbia for the final spot. The Big Red went 6-8 in conference play but have two of the best players in the league in Stone Gettings and Matt Morgan. The only rub is, Cornell went a combined 0-6 against the top 3 in the conference.

Who Will Win:

  • Penn - The Quakers split the season series with Yale and Harvard, but they're the most complete team in the league by a fair margin. Playing at the Palestra should give the Quakes a nice little push - they didn't lose a single conference game at home this season. 

If Not Them, Then:

  • Harvard - Cornell played Harvard close in both meetings this season, so don't be SHOCKED if the Big Red take down the Crimson in the opening round. I'm going with the superior talent in this one, but I'd be a fool to write off Matt Morgan's takeover ability.