Boris Tsang / Sun Staff Photographer

A win against Harvard this weekend will be crucial in securing the final spot for the postseason tournament.

February 26, 2018

Playoff Picture: How Men’s Basketball Makes the Conference Tournament Entering Final Weekend of Ivy Play

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Don’t look now, but Cornell men’s basketball sits within the Ivy League’s top four heading into the last weekend of the regular season.

More importantly,with the inauguration of the conference tournament last year, and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament to the winner of that tournament, the final few games of the season just gained a lot more meaning.

With three of the four Ivy postseason spots already locked up — by Penn, Harvard and Yale — it is a four-team race for the final spot. Currently 5-7 in league play, the Red finds itself in a tie with Columbia for fourth place, and ahead of both Princeton and Brown by only one game.


In an event that the season ends in a tie, according to, the tiebreakers are, in order:

  1. Head‐to‐head competition ‐ The higher seed will go to the team that has won the most League contests played against the other team involved in the tie.
  2. If a tie still exists, the tie will be broken by comparing each team’s record against the highest seed outside of the tie and continuing through the full league standings (if there is a group of tied teams, use each team’s record against the group rather than the individual teams) if necessary.
  3. If a tie still exists, an average of the most recent ratings indices identified in advance by the coaches In the case of men’s basketball, Sagarin, Ken Pom, BPI and NCAA RPI will be utilized to determine the higher seed.
  4. If a tie still persists, a draw will be conducted by the Executive Director.

Here are the possible scenarios in how each team vying for the final playoff spot can qualify:

Cornell Advances With

  1. Win over Harvard, win over Dartmouth, Columbia loss
  2. Win over Harvard, Columbia loss to Harvard
  3. Win over Dartmouth, Columbia loss to Harvard, Columbia loss to Dartmouth, Princeton loss

Columbia Advances With

  1. Win over Harvard, win over Dartmouth
  2. Win over Harvard, Cornell loss
  3. Win over Dartmouth, Cornell loss to Harvard
  4. Loss to Harvard, loss to Dartmouth, Cornell loss to Harvard, Cornell loss to Dartmouth, Princeton loss, Brown loss to Penn.

Princeton Advances if

  1. Win at Yale and Brown + Cornell loss to Harvard + Columbia losses to both Harvard and Dartmouth

Brown Advances if

  1. Win against Princeton and Penn + Cornell losses to both Harvard and Dartmouth + Columbia loss + Penn remains #1 seed.


Breaking down Cornell’s chances

Although matched up against a tough Harvard team with a dominant 10-2 league record, the Red was able to keep its last matchup with the Crimson close, led by 32 points from junior Stone Gettings before falling 76-73. The team will need a similar showing from the standout forward on Friday to have a chance at tournament play.

Saturday, the Red will face a struggling Dartmouth team — the only squad eliminated from “Ivy Madness” contention — that has failed to break 50 points in either of their last two games. If the Red is able to pull off a win over Harvard on Friday, all the pressure will be on Columbia as they face off against the same Crimson team on Saturday night in a game that could determine who’s in and who’s out.

If Cornell can upset Harvard on Friday and get a little help from the Crimson on Saturday, there is a solid chance the team will punch its ticket for a March 9 matchup with Penn in Philadelphia.