There is one night left in the Ivy League regular season and Penn men's basketball still has a fighting chance at a berth in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament. But the Quakers will need some help.
As a recap, the tournament will have four teams and be hosted at the Palestra next Saturday and Sunday. Princeton, Harvard and Yale are locked in as the No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds, respectively. From there, only Cornell is eliminated. Penn and Columbia are tied for fourth place at 5-8 while Dartmouth and Brown are 4-9.
On Saturday, Penn hosts Harvard, Dartmouth travels to Princeton, Columbia is on the road at Yale and Brown faces Cornell in Providence.
The Quakers lost an extremely costly game to Dartmouth on Friday night, while Brown beat up Columbia. Penn was swept by the Big Green for the first time since 2009 and just the second time since 1959. If Penn had won, all the Red and Blue would have needed was a win over Harvard or, perhaps more likely, a Yale win over Columbia.
Now there are only two scenarios that get Penn into the Ivy tournament and both involve a victory over Harvard. The game is a literal must-win. (There was a scenario that had Penn getting into the tournament with a 5-9 record, but Cornell's loss at Yale on Friday night ended it.)
1. Penn beats Harvard
2. Yale beats Columbia
1. Penn beats Harvard but Columbia beats Yale
2. Cornell beats Brown
3. Princeton beats Dartmouth
For an explanation of all the tiebreakers involved in Penn topping Columbia in this scenario, see my post from Friday morning.
Yale beating Columbia in New Haven isn't too tough to imagine, so perhaps the most difficult part is the actual Penn win over Harvard. However, a bit of luck and history are on the Quakers' side. On the luck side, the Crimson played a grueling game at Princeton on Friday night and need to travel to the Palestra with nothing to play for in terms of seeding. In terms of history, the last time Penn lost at home to Dartmouth (2013), the Quakers responded by beating the eventual Ivy champion Harvard the next night.
In their meeting up in Cambridge earlier this year, the Quakers raced out to an early lead but eventually lost to the Crimson, 69-59. If they want any chance of postseason glory, they'll have to reverse that result on Saturday night ... and get a little bit of help.