Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ivy/Patriot Challenge? Good Idea or Bad Idea?

On their blog today, the Cornell Basketball Blog suggested that it would "seem to make sense" for the Ivy League and Patriot League come to a formal agreement to have a challenge series between the two conferences, a la the ACC/Big 10 challenge, SEC-Big East invitational, and the now-concluded Big XII/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. At first glance, this seems like a perfect idea. Both conferences have a similar academic profile (e.g.- it was only recently that the Patriot League allowed athletic scholarships in non-football sports) and are similar geographically. Further, one only needs to look at football schedules to see a natural affinity between the two conferences. To take Harvard as an example, the Crimson football team will play all three non-conference games against the Patriot League this upcoming season, as they have for many years past. But, is that affinity actually problematic for such a series to take place on the hardwood?

The Ivies and Patriots already meet up a bit in basketball. Last year, Ivy League teams averaged 2.5 games against the Patriot League, with a range of 1 (Harvard and Cornell) to 5 (Dartmouth). If the two conferences agreed to a challenge series, would that place a burden on teams like Dartmouth (which actually had home and homes last season with two teams in the Patriot League, pretty rare for non-conference play) in terms of filling out their non-conference schedule? Looking at last year's ACC schedule, for example, there was only one ACC/Big 10 match-up outside of the challenge- a tournament game between Boston College and Wisconsin. It seems like it would be problematic for some of the Ivies if games against Patriot League opponents was held to one game since, as noted, the Patriot League makes a lot of sense as a non-conference opponent. Likewise, the challenge loses some of its appeal if teams can schedule non-conference games outside of the series. Perhaps one solution would be to follow Dartmouth's lead and make the series a home and home- this way, the Ivy League as a whole only "loses" 4 non-conference games.

(It should be noted that the original proposal that sparked this discussion was a Horizon/MAC challenge and the author at the Chicago Basketball Blog proposed his challenge because the two teams in those conferences meet up so much and in his proposal the Horizon League would "lose" 8 non-conference games, so maybe this isn't a problem.)

More analysis after the jump:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Women's Softball to Tucson

Update- Edited the game schedule as I was missing a game.
Second Update- Edited the game schedule to reflect Friday night's results

The path to Oklahoma City will start in Arizona for Harvard's softball squad after a dominate Ivy League performance. The Crimson found out the news around the same time that they officially closed the book on a successful Ancient Eight campaign. After sweeping their North Division opponents, Harvard defeated Cornell in two shutouts in Cambridge to claim the Ivy League championship. Individually, the Crimson swept the league awards, with Ellen Macadam becoming the first Crimson player since Tiffany Whitton in 2002 to earn Player of the Year honors, Rachel Brown earning Pitcher of the Year honors, and Kasey Lange earning Rookie of the Year. Shortstop Jane Alexander and outfielder Stephanie Regan joined the trio as First Team All-Ivy selections, with Laura Ricciardone, Allie Scott, Whitney Shaw, Ashley Heritage and Mari Zumbo earning Second Team All-Ivy accolades. Now the Crimson will head west to take on #8 Arizona, Texas Tech, and New Mexico State in the double-elimination regional round hosted by Arizona.

After the jump, we'll preview Harvard's regional opponents and see how the Crimson stack up. The schedule is at the end of the post.