Princeton Can Punch First NCAA Tournament Ticket with Win at Harvard

Sam BlumCorrespondent IMarch 5, 2011

The Ivy League may not play a conference tournament. But it sure doesn't get much better than this.

After winning last night on the road at Dartmouth (1-12), Princeton (11-1) maintained control over the Ivy League race as the regular season winds down.

Harvard (11-2) also won last night at home against Penn, a team that took them to double overtime in their last meeting at the Palestra. With the win, Harvard sets up what should be the most exciting Ivy League game in recent memory as Princeton will invade Lavietes Pavillion tonight on Harvard's campus in Cambridge, MA.

With a win, Harvard would clinch at the very least a share of the Ivy crown, their first league championship in school history. Princeton would then need to lose to Penn on Tuesday in order for Harvard to be guaranteed the NCAA Tournament spot. Should Princeton win, they would win the conference outright.

However, should Harvard win tonight, and Princeton win on Tuesday, then that would force a tie and thus a one-game playoff at a neutral location. The site of that game and time is still TBD, but possible locations include Yale or Columbia, and would probably be next Friday or Saturday.

The Crimson had complete control of their fate up until last week when they lost to Yale on the road in the final minute, giving Princeton all the momentum. However, last night the Harvard Gym was packed and noisy as they hosted Penn in what was a must-win situation.

These two teams have already met once this season, a game in which Harvard dominated in the first half at Jadwin Gym in Princeton, before the Tigers came storming back in the second half to take the victory, 65-61.

The keys to tonight's game for both teams is to contain. Both are two tremendous defensive squads. If either team can hold their opponent to stay in the 50- to 60-point range they should be able to win.

Princeton is the more experienced with team with seniors like Dan Mavraides and Kareem Maddox, both of whom are key pieces for the success of this Tigers team. Maddox will need to be able to get points in the paint and get to the line. 

Harvard has not lost at home all season. The last time they did lose at home was last season to Princeton. This game should be wild, it has already been sold out for days. Harvard is a much less experienced team, however; 12 of their 15 players are underclassmen, and they have no seniors. Some might argue that's a good thing, seeing as they will certainly be the class of the league for years to come under coach Tommy Amaker

The game will tip off at 7 p.m. and air on