|In its cathedral home at Payne Whitney in New Haven in Feb., Yale basketball hosted (and defeated) Dartmouth (above). (YWAA photo)|
This isn't an experiment. It's the real deal. The winner will advance to the men's basketball NCAA tournament, March Madness, circa 2017.
Recall last year's basketball euphoria at Yale. Yale won the Ivy League title and proceeded to shock the basketball world with a stunning Friday-afternoon upset over Baylor in Providence. At least for two days, basketball aficionados and bracket fanatics had discovered they do play the game in New Haven. It was Yale's first tournament win ever. Two days later, the Bulldogs pushed Duke to the final minute until it lost its second-round match.
This year's team is smaller, but features swift guard play and lots of newcomers with freshmen and sophomores on the floor most of the time. The roster doesn't include a Westchester athlete and is sprinkled with players from California to Carolina. (Rhodes Scholar and top rebounder Matt Townsend '15 of Chappaqua was the last Westchester player on the team.) During its 17-10 regular season, there were big wins (like Washington of the Pac-12) followed by unexpected losses, but enough conference wins to get to the Palestra, where the tournament will be held.
To win the Ivy championship, it will likely have to beat Big Three rivals: Harvard (Mar. 11) and Princeton (Mar. 12). Possible? Yes. Likely?