The 10,000 sims series comes to its thrilling, yet inevitable conclusion today with a look at the Ivy League, which is a two-horse race at the top.
Harvard and Princeton are currently 79 and 80 in the Pomeroy rankings, which form the backbone of this simulation. The Crimson and Tigers are so close that really, it’s tough to distinguish between the two of them. In this case we’re giving Harvard the slightest of edges, but I’d bet that Princeton comes out on top when Ivy Basketball runs its simulations for the 14-game Tournament thanks to the cozy confines of Jadwin Gymnasium. (Look for more discussion about the Ivy League with Michael James in Monday’s podcast!)
Here are the chances of a team winning the league title. Note: 22% of the seasons ended in a tie of some sort. The number in parentheses is the chances of winning the title outright.
- Harvard: 58% (38%)
- Princeton: 56% (36%)
- Columbia: 10% (4%)
- Yale: 0.5% (0.1%)
- Pennsylvania: 0.06% (none)
- Cornell: 0.05% (0.01%)
- Brown: 0.01% (none)
When you get past the top four teams you’re talking about essentially random samples of tied seasons. There were a few wacky ones where 11 wins was enough to win the league. Though there were only three seasons where more than three teams tied for the title, that’s an extremely small number. It’s related to the fact that there are some pretty distinct tiering effects going on with Harvard-Princeton, Columbia, Yale-Cornell-Brown-Penn, Dartmouth. (At least that’s about how I see the league right now, though you can argue where everyone in the middle fits.)
This isn’t a large change from where we thought the league would be in November when I used KenPom’s numbers. Princeton’s odds of tying Harvard for the title have increased a bit and the bottom tier of the league has lost some oomph, but in general, this is pretty close to the status quo.
In terms of superlatives, it’s pretty crazy to think that any team will go undefeated or winless in league play, but not impossible. About 6% of simulations ended with either Harvard, Princeton or Columbia (six times) going undefeated. Fewer than 1% of simulations ended with a team going winless, with Dartmouth’s 62 making up the bulk of them.
Average Win Totals For Each Team (I know you can’t win a tenth of a game, they’re there for demonstration purposes):
- Harvard: 11.2
- Princeton: 11.2
- Columbia: 8.9
- Yale: 6.1
- Cornell: 5.2
- Pennsylvania: 4.9
- Brown: 4.6
- Dartmouth: 3.9
As a final statement, I would like to note that crazy things do happen. Penn almost pulled off an Ivy League title last season, something I gave the Quakers about a 2% chance of doing before conference play came along. Then Zack Rosen exploded. Columbia’s odds, even the outright ones, means it happens once every 25 times this league plays out. So yea, it could happen.