Ivy League Projection: Harvard and everyone else

There’s no way to miss who the Ivy League favorite is this season. Tommy Amaker has built up a team at Harvard that can contend for a spot in the Top 25 and even with the league at one of the highest levels its been in a long while it’s still the Crimsons’ to lose. In 10,000 simulations Harvard at least shared first place 9,508 (95%) of the time. That’s incredible.

Still, the overall balance of the league right below the Crimson was also apparent in the seasons where Harvard got knocked off. Five other teams won at least one automatic berth to the NCAA tournament, and every single team did it at least 41 times outright. From Princeton to Penn the rest of the league is wide open.

Unless of course you happen to be Brown or Dartmouth. According to these projections both of those teams are going to struggle mightily in conference play. They were the only teams to go winless in an Ivy season. Brown did it 142 times and Dartmouth 309. While that means its statistically unlikely to occur, the Bears and Big Green have to at least be wondering about the possibility. They’ll need strong starts.

Since the Ivy League’s regular season champion determines who plays in the NCAA tournament it’s worth mentioning that there were 792 seasons (7.9%) in which at least two teams tied for the title. Here’s the breakdown: 695 two-team, 86 three-team, nine four-team and two five-team. I don’t even  know if there is a tie breaker scenario for five teams tying for the league title, but I’d love to see it. (Partly because I’m pretty sure it would basically mean that the Ivy League would have to institute a postseason tournament for a year.)

Harvard tied for first place in 752 of their 9,508 wins. That means that 7.9% of the time they ended up facing one more road block, just like they had to face Princeton last season. We’ll see if the Crimson can get past it this season.

Note: The average margin column here is the average margin in outright seasons for a champion over the second place team. So in an average season Harvard was about three wins better than the second place team. (That’s quite the cushion to have.)


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