By Matt Noonan
Ever since the Ivy League athletic conference came together in 1935, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have never taken part in a league tournament to decide the true NCAA March Madness representative. Instead, once the season has officially ended, whichever team, both in the men’s and women’s standings that finished with the best record in division play, is crowned the champion.
However, wouldn’t it be more enjoyable to have a quick round robin tournament or possibly, an Ivy League Final Four? Wouldn’t it seem fair to allow the schools that finished in second, third or fourth place the opportunity to play one or two more games of basketball?
You may think that I am rooting for the underdogs or losers, but what is especially fun about college basketball in March is the various conference championships, which are the prelude to the gigantic NCAA Division I tournament. Everyone seems to get revved up and extremely excited for these various tournaments, which always produce great basketball and dramatic memories.
Yet, the Ivy League is not the Big East, ACC or Pac-10, but instead, a boring conference that just chooses one winner and doesn’t have a conference tournament.
Why not have a conference tournament, wouldn’t that be enjoyable, exciting or worth watching? Wouldn’t various Ivy League fans, students, professors and parents all attend the weekend event? Come on, it’s college basketball, of course they would!
Over the years, the Ivy League has featured some great basketball contests that are not always overlooked, but instead, featured across the various media outlets across the country.
Weren’t you rooting for Cornell to beat the University of Kentucky last March? Sure, it seemed like a long shot that the Big Red would win and advance to the elite eight, which has never occurred in Cornell’s school history, but it just seems that come tournament time, fans want to root for the underdog or a team that doesn’t receive the national attention.
The current Ivy League season in the men’s division has been rather intriguing, as both Harvard and Princeton remain locked atop the standings. If Harvard wins their final two regular season contests that occur this weekend, which includes games against University of Pennsylvania and Princeton, then the Crimson would force a one-game playoff, which has occurred over the years.
In 2009, Cornell, Dartmouth, Yale and Princeton were all vying for the top spot and a possible playoff system was being established incase of a four way tie atop the league standings occurred. Although, Cornell eventually edged out their opponents and earned a trip to Boise, Idaho, where they lost to a much more powerful and athletic team, Missouri, 78-59.
In 2002, Yale and Princeton needed one more game to decide the true conference winner and once their final matchup was over, the Bulldogs won the division and secured the automatic NCAA tournament bid.
See, the Ivy League has had some form of a small tournament or at least, a “championship game” that mattered, so why not extend the season for an extra day or two? If fans are interested in attending a one-game playoff, then certainly they’d want to be there for an Ivy League conference tournament.
Having an Ivy League conference championship would prove that they’re just as important as other schools, such as Duke, University of North Carolina, Texas, Kansas State and Syracuse University. If you pay attention to Ivy League basketball, it is possible that you would know that Harvard and Cornell have faced off against some of the true powerhouse schools, as well as those that are receiving Top-25 votes.
All in all, lets have an Ivy League conference championship because otherwise, it just seems boring to have an automatic shoe-in.