Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ivy League Scenarios

With two weeks to go, the 2013 Ivy League football race is anything but settled. Five teams can still compete for at least a share of the title, and no one has clinched a share. Here, WHRB football color commentator Ben Zauzmer takes you through the best and worst case scenarios for each team.

For some bizarre reason, the Ivy League does not break ties, even for the championships, leading to the potential for some very frustrating results. Also note that we treat the scenario “tie for sixth” as independent from and worse than “sixth,” for instance. Similarly, winning the championship outright is considered to be a better scenario than winning a share of the title.

Princeton (5-0)
Best-case scenario: Ivy League Championship. This can happen in two ways:
1. Princeton goes 2-0. That’s it. There’s a reason it’s called controlling your own destiny.
2. Princeton goes 1-1, and Harvard loses at least one game. It doesn’t matter which game(s) Harvard loses.
Note: Despite being alone in first, Princeton cannot rely solely on other teams to do all of the work. If the Tigers go 0-2, then Harvard would have to go 0-2. But, that would force Yale into going 2-0, tying the Tigers and stealing a share of the title.

Worst-case scenario: Tie for second. Princeton goes 0-2, Harvard goes 2-0, and Dartmouth beats Brown.

Harvard (4-1)
Best-case scenario: Ivy League Championship. Just that one triple overtime loss to Princeton has made this scenario so much tougher. The Crimson have to first beat Penn and Yale, which is no sure thing. Then, they need undefeated Princeton to lose to both Yale and Dartmouth. It’s not impossible, but it’s a long shot.

Worst-case scenario: Fifth.  The Crimson finish with two losses, while Dartmouth wins out, Yale beats Princeton, and Penn beats Cornell. What a depressing finale that would be.

Yale (3-2)
Best-case scenario: Share of the title. Yale requires a 2-0 finish to their comeback season, and then Dartmouth beats Princeton. It looks like the easiest path to the finish line among the 3-2 teams, but Yale’s road goes through the top two teams in the league: Princeton and Harvard.

Worst-case scenario: Sixth. Yale goes 0-2, Brown goes 2-0, Dartmouth beats Princeton, and Penn wins at least one more game.

Dartmouth (3-2)
Best-case scenario: Share of the title. Dartmouth wins both of its last two games, Yale upsets Princeton, and Harvard fares no better than 1-1.

Worst-case scenario: Sixth. Dartmouth loses its final two games, Brown beats Columbia, and both Penn and Yale win at least one more game.

Penn (3-2)
Best-case scenario: Share of the title. Somehow, all they need is to win their last two games and Princeton to lose its last two. That’s it – the other games for Yale, Dartmouth, and Harvard don’t matter. Of course, asking the undefeated Tigers to go winless the rest of the way might be too large of a favor.

Worst-case scenario: Sixth. Penn would have to fall in both of its last games, Brown would need to win out, Yale would need to win at least one of its remaining matches, and Dartmouth would have to beat Princeton. This is the perfect storm scenario for the Fighting Quakers.

Brown (2-3)
Best-case scenario: Tie for second. They have to win out, Harvard has to lose out, Princeton has to beat Yale, and Cornell has to beat Penn. That’s right: all six of those games have to go the Bears’ way, or second place is gone.

Worst-case scenario: Tie for sixth. It sure doesn’t feel like Brown belongs in the same category as Cornell and Columbia. But it’s possible, if the Bears go winless and the winner of Cornell/Columbia wins its final game of the season.

Cornell (0-5)
Best-case scenario: Tie for sixth. They need to beat Columbia at home (very doable) and Penn on the road (highly unlikely). Plus, Brown would have to lose out, which would include a loss against Columbia. Don’t hold your breath.

Worst-case scenario: Eighth. The only way this occurs is a loss to Columbia, and even then the Big Red could get back into a tie for seventh with a win and Columbia loss in the final week.

Columbia (0-5)
Best-case scenario: Tie for sixth. They need to beat Cornell and Brown, the two other worst teams in the league, and have Brown lose this week to Dartmouth. While it’s quite plausible that the Bears will help them out with a loss, don’t count on the lowly Lions helping themselves out with a pair of wins.

Worst-case scenario: Eighth. They can avoid this fate with a win against Cornell this week. Otherwise, they will need a Cornell loss and a win against a Brown in the final week to stave off the last place ranking they probably deserve. 

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