Ivy League basketball playoff scenarios as of Friday afternoon

As the Ivy League hits its final weekend of the regular season, four teams remain mathematically alive to claim a share of the conference title.

Here are the standings as of Friday afternoon, the remaining games, and the possible scenarios. 

Standings and Remaining Games 

1. Harvard, 10-2 (at Columbia, at Cornell)
2. Penn, 9-2 (vs. Brown, vs. Yale, at Princeton)
3. Yale, 9-3 (at Princeton, at Penn)
4. Princeton, 7-4 (vs. Yale, vs. Brown, vs. Penn) 

Scenarios 

1. Two-team playoff, each with 12-2 records: 

- Harvard beats Columbia and Cornell
- Penn beats Brown, Yale, and Princeton 

2. Three-team playoff, each with 11-3 records: 

- Harvard wins one game this weekend and loses one game, regardless of opponent
- Penn beats Brown, loses to Yale, and beats Princeton
- Yale beats Princeton and Penn 

3. Four-team playoff, each with 10-4 records:

- Harvard loses to Columbia and Cornell
- Penn beats Brown, loses to Yale and loses to Princeton
- Yale loses to Princeton and beats Penn
- Princeton beats Yale, Brown and Penn 

If there is more than one playoff game, seeding will be determined based on head-to-head records between the teams. Those scenarios would be as follows: 

Three-team playoff

1. Harvard, 3-1 (swept Yale, split with Penn)
2. Yale, 2-2 (swept Penn, swept by Harvard)
3. Penn, 1-3 (swept by Yale, split with Harvard) 

In this scenario, Yale would play Penn in the first game, and the winner would play Harvard for the automatic bid.

Four-team playoff

1. Harvard, 4-2 (swept Yale, split with Penn, split with Princeton)
2. Yale, 3-3 (swept Penn, split with Princeton, swept by Harvard)
3. Princeton, 3-3 (split with Harvard, split with Yale, split with Penn)
4. Penn, 2-4 (split with Harvard, split with Princeton, swept by Yale) 

In this scenario, Harvard would play Penn and Yale would play Princeton in semi-finals. The winners would play each other for the automatic bid.

The tiebreaker between Yale and Princeton is record against the next team below them in the standings. Since Yale swept Penn and Princeton did not, the Bulldogs get second place. 

As for venues, the Ivy League isn’t saying anything, but my experience tells me a few things. Yale’s Lee Amphitheater and Columbia’s Levien Gymnasium will definitely be considered. I’ve heard from a few places that Princeton’s Jadwin Gymnasium is also a possible venue, especially for a final, but only if the Tigers are not involved. 

It’s difficult to project possible non-Ivy venues without knowing how much the league is willing to pay for rent. I don’t know any numbers, but I think it’s safe to assume that any sum paid won’t be excessively high. 

In other words, as great as it would be to dream of a playoff game at Madison Square Garden, that won’t happen. 

Also off the table is the Webster Bank Arena in Bridegeport, Conn., formerly known as the Arena at Harbor Yard. There’s a minor league hockey game on Saturday, March 10, so the building is booked. 

One venue I have heard discussed is Carnasecca Arena at St. John’s University in Queens. That would get the league into New York, at least. But I don’t know the financial considerations involved in that.

Now, about scheduling. If there’s a two-round playoff, I understand that the games will likely be played Thursday, March 8 and 10. If it’s just one game, it could be either Friday, March 9 or Saturday, March 10. Television will probably play a role in that decision.

I’ll post more information as the weekend plays out.

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