(Bloomberg) — Yale University defeated Harvard 62-52 to move within one win of a return to the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament after 53 years.
The win for the Bulldogs in front of a sold-out crowd at Lavietes Pavilion in Boston broke a two-way tie atop the Ivy League standings, meaning Yale has at least a share of the conference title and can clinch an NCAA tournament berth with a win tomorrow at Dartmouth.
A Yale victory tomorrow against the sixth-place Big Green would break Harvard’s recent dominance in the eight-team Ivy League. Under coach Tommy Amaker, the Crimson have won at least a share of the past four conference titles and played in each of the past three NCAA tournaments.
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Harvard last year won the title by four games over Yale with a 13-1 record in league play. In the NCAA tournament the Crimson upset fifth-seeded Cincinnati to become the first Ivy League team since Princeton in 1983-84 to win games in back-to-back NCAA tournaments.
Harvard’s top three scorers from that team returned this year, making the Crimson a unanimous choice in the league’s preseason media poll to win a fifth consecutive title. Yale was second in that ranking, after the Bulldogs advanced to the final of the 32-team CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) last year.
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Should Yale (22-8, 11-2 Ivy League) lose tomorrow at Dartmouth (13-14, 6-7), and Harvard (20-7, 10-3) beat Brown (13-17, 4-9), the Bulldogs and Crimson would meet next week at a neutral site for a one-game playoff to determine who receives the NCAA tournament berth. There have been eight playoffs in Ivy League history, most recently in 2011.
Entering this weekend, Yale junior Justin Sears and senior Javier Duren were both in the top five in Ivy scoring. The New Haven, Connecticut, school’s 68.7 points per game were the highest in the conference, as was its +7.8 average scoring margin.
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The Bulldogs were ranked No. 86 in the country, according to the Sagarin Ratings, which takes into account record, strength of schedule and location of wins. Harvard was the top-ranked Ivy team at No. 80.
Yale is 0-4 all-time in the NCAA tournament, with two of those losses coming in 1949, when the format wasn’t single-elimination. The Bulldogs’ most recent tournament appearance was in 1962, when they lost 92-82 to Wake Forest.
Since then Yale has won a shared conference title once, in 2001-02, losing to Penn in its playoff.
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