March Madness, the euphemism that has taken hold to describe the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournaments in March of each year, is one of the most popular sporting events in America. Millions of people focus their attention on college basketball each March as teams compete in postseason conference tournaments and in the 3-week, single-elimination NCAA tournaments that follow.
This past March, the Ivy League, which has not held postseason basketball tournaments, announced that it will introduce one for both men’s and women’s basketball beginning in 2017. The League’s council of presidents approved 4-team tournaments to start after the regular basketball season is concluded. The tournaments will determine which men’s and women’s teams will receive the League’s automatic berths in the NCAA tournaments. In the past, the teams that finished in first place in the League’s regular season standings have filled the NCAA tournament slots reserved for the Ivy League.
The first annual Men’s and Women’s Ivy League Basketball Tournament will be held on March 11-12, 2017, in Philadelphia, at the Palestra, Penn’s home court. The top seed will play the No. 4 seed, and the No. 2 seed will face the No. 3 seed on Saturday. Both championship games will be held on Sunday.
As you might expect, there are differing viewpoints on whether it’s better to determine the Ivy League’s NCAA bids by the traditional method, first place in the season’s standings, or by means of a postseason tournament. In support of the tournament approach, James Jones, coach of the Yale men’s team that finished first in the Ivy League and played in the NCAA tournament in 2016, summarized his position: “I’m very excited for our League.” Jones told ESPN, “This tournament will give us a platform to help showcase our conference.” As a coach, though, his bias would lean toward playing more games under a national spotlight.
Following the announcement in March, Mike Greenberg of Mike & Mike, a popular ESPN sports talk radio program, presented the opposing viewpoint in an on-air rant. The Mikes of Mike & Mike are sports purists who are known to disagree with each other vehemently on many sports subjects, but on this topic, Mike Golic also weighed in against an Ivy League postseason tournament. Mike Greenberg’s strongly expressed views are quoted below:
“I cannot stand that the Ivy League is going to a conference tournament. The Ivy League has been the lone hold out and the last conference doing it right. Up until this year, and including this year, they gave their NCAA automatic bid to the regular season champion, and they have not had a postseason tournament. And you know why…the reason they never did it? They don’t need the money. Have you seen the endowments that these schools have? Harvard’s endowment is bigger than the GNP of most countries. But next year, the team that has two good days in a row can undo all that happened in the preceding three months. I understand why many smaller conferences have a tournament — they need the money. They might not even be able to field a team without the added revenue that their tournament brings… but you’re Harvard, Princeton, and Yale! I hate it! Every conference should give their slot to the team that finishes first in the regular season.”
A century ago, the Ivy League dominated intercollegiate sports. However, the League ceased awarding sports scholarships more than half a century ago, and the “Ancient Eight” of today have far fewer students than the huge state university sports powerhouses. These factors have worked against an Ivy League team being a serious contender to win an NCAA tournament for several decades. In fact, the last men’s Ivy teams to reach the tournament semifinals were Princeton in 1975 and Penn in 1979. The last Ivy League team to win the NCAA basketball tournament was Dartmouth in 1944.
Nevertheless, the popularity of basketball and other teams among the students and alumni of Ivy League schools remains at peak levels. To keep their teams as competitive as possible without offering athletic scholarships, coaches often seek to accommodate academically qualified student athletes that use sports as their “hook” to gain admission to these extremely selective schools.
If you’re an athlete who aspires to attend an Ivy League school, using IvySelect as your college admissions consulting firm improves your chances of admission in two important ways. First, we assure that your overall application is of superior quality, thereby avoiding rejection for preventable reasons like a poor essay or a less-than-optimal high school curriculum. Second, we guide your communications with coaches at elite institutions who might like to recruit you and, if they do recruit you, would advocate on your behalf for admission to their school.
In addition to the Ivies, IvySelect assists student athletes seeking admission to other elite private universities such as Duke, Northwestern, and Stanford, and top public universities like North Carolina, Berkeley, and Michigan, all of which recruit students who are outstanding in both athletics and academics.
Regardless of your educational goals, you, as a student athlete, will benefit substantially by retaining IvySelect to provide sound advice and expert college counseling services to help you to succeed.