March 14, 2001

Ivy League Should Learn to Dance With the Big Boys

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I’m skipping class tomorrow.

But this time at least I have a good reason.

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament begins tomorrow afternoon at 12:20 p.m., and you damn well better believe that I’ll be lying on my couch watching it.

As usual there’s only one Ivy League team in the 64-team field, and as usual it’s Princeton who gets to receive a smackdown from North Carolina on Friday night.

Just as Harvard, Princeton, and Yale dominate the U.S. News & World Report rankings each year, Princeton and Penn have locked up every NCAA tournament berth since the invention of the Ginsu Knife.

Obviously we can’t have a tournament pitting all the top professors in the Ivy League in a no-holds barred research tournament to decide which school is indeed the best in the world. (Although, I’d imagine it would be rather amusing — just picture a square-off between Cornell’s James Maas trying to solve the world’s sleep problems and Harvard’s Lawrence Katz trying to decipher the root of unemployment.)

But there’s no reason that the Ivy League can’t have a postseason basketball tournament to decide which school receives a bid to the NCAAs.

Almost every other basketball conference in the country has a tournament. And the one notable exception (the Pac-10) actually has good basketball programs. Consequently it places multiple teams in the tournament each year.

Almost every other Cornell sport is involved in some sort of postseason competition —