Thursday, December 29, 2011
Harvard miles ahead of Ivy League foes
By Eamonn Brennan
Harvard is the Ivy League favorite. This is not an insight. With so much talent in Tommy Amaker's lineup, the Crimson have been the obvious preseason favorite to win their seemingly overmatched league since, oh, April. Their play since -- Harvard is 10-1 with a win over Florida State and a lone loss coming at Connecticut -- has only codified that belief.
What may surprise you, however, is the sheer depth and breadth of Harvard's apparent superiority. Of the 10,000 simulated seasons John projected, the Crimson won 9,508 of them -- just over 95 percent. As John writes: "That's incredible." Contrast that with, say, Belmont and Murray State, both of whom were projected champions of their respective leagues in about 93 percent of Ken Pomeroy's projected seasons this week. For what it's worth, Ken has Harvard as winners of 8,911 of his 10,000 projected seasons, largely because of the Ivy League's shortened schedule, so there's a bit of wiggle room here.
In fact, that shortened schedule, and the lingering possibility of a tie, may be Harvard's biggest stumbling block. According to John's projections, Harvard tied for first in 752 of its 9,508 wins. There's a chance, albeit a small one, that the Crimson end the Ivy League regular season in a first-place tie. Because the Ivy League has no conference tournament, and settles any league ties with one-off playoff games, Harvard could find itself in the same do-or-die situation which cost it an NCAA tournament spot to Princeton (thanks to a buzzer-beater, no less) last season.
The good news? Harvard went undefeated in 1,291 of its 9,508 wins in John's simulations. In other words, the slim chance Harvard faces a playoff game in the Ivy League is even less likely than the Crimson blitz through the regular season without a loss. Unless something goes horribly awry, the Crimson are a near-lock to make their first NCAA tournament in the modern era. All they have to do now is win the games.