Ivy League: Win over Harvard Gives Princeton a Lifeline in Title Race

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2013

Photo Courtesy of ivyleaguesports.com
Photo Courtesy of ivyleaguesports.com

On Friday night, the tides turned into the chase for the regular season title of the Ivy League.

Princeton defeated Harvard, 58-53, at Jadwin Gymnasium to close the lead that Harvard has at the top of the standings to a half of a game.

The reason why this game was more important than any other regular season game played in the Ivy League this season is that the regular season winner of the conference earns the only automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament from the Ivy League.

If the Crimson had come out of Jadwin Gym with their first win in Princeton since 1989, they would have gone two and a half games ahead of Princeton in the standings with three games left on the schedule. 

Now, after the victory by Princeton, the pressure on Harvard has grown monumentally.

Princeton has an extra game left on their schedule, which is why they currently sit at 8-2 in conference and why Harvard is 9-2. 

After visiting a struggling Penn team on Saturday night, the Crimson will play their final two games at home against Columbia and Cornell next weekend before they sit around and wait to see what the Tigers accomplish.

Princeton also plays on Saturday when they host Dartmouth in their final home game of the season.

The final three games on the Tigers' schedule will be on the road at Yale, Brown and Penn. 

While Harvard will finish up their season on March 9, the Tigers play their final game on March 12, which will leave the Crimson waiting for three days to see if they are going to represent the Ivy League in the Tournament. 

But what happens if both teams win the remaining games on their schedule and finish with a 12-2 conference record? 

The answer would come in the form of a one-game playoff.

Harvard, who are coached by former Seton Hall and Michigan coach Tommy Amaker, should win their final three games but they must be wary of Columbia, who defeated them by 15 earlier in the season. 

Princeton has a much more difficult journey to the possible one-game playoff with their road trip to New Haven to play Yale on March 8 being their hardest game left. The Tigers hosted Yale on February 9 and lost 69-65.

With two weeks left to go in the Ivy League regular season title race, one thing is for sure, the race between Harvard and Princeton will be one of the most intriguing title races in the nation.