The Ivy League men's lacrosse regular season is down to three games, all to be held this Saturday. The results of those three games could mean a huge swing in terms of the league champion (or champions) and the league tournament.
That tournament, the first in league history, begins in fewer than two weeks, and with only those three games left, there is only one team definitley in the four-team field and one team definitely out of the four-team field.
So what do we already know?
Princeton is in the tournament and has clinched at least a share of the league championship. Princeton would win the outright title and host the tournament with a win over Cornell Saturday (5 pm, Class of 1952 Stadium, ESPNU); conversely, a Cornell win over Princeton would mean that the Tigers could not host the tournament.
The other games this weekend are Harvard at Yale and Dartmouth at Brown. Princeton is currently 4-1, followed by Cornell, Yale and Brown at 3-2, Harvard and Dartmouth at 2-3 and Penn mathematically eliminated at 1-5.
Brown, Yale, Harvard and Cornell would all be in the tournament simply by winning their games. Dartmouth can only reach the field by winning and getting some help. Depending on what else happens, Cornell, Yale or Brown could lose but still get in.
Princeton could finish in a two-way, three-way or four-way tie for first. Should Cornell beat Princeton, the Big Red would earn a share and would also open the door for Yale and Brown, who would also get a share with a Cornell win and wins of their own.
In the event of a four-way tie, Cornell would host the league tournament. Why? The first tiebreaker is head-to-head, which among the four teams would be Cornell and Princeton at 2-1 and Yale and Brown at 1-2 (remember, Cornell needs to beat Princeton to create any tie situations, so all of these scenarios would be based on a Cornell win Saturday). That would eliminate Brown and Yale and give Cornell the top seed, by virtue of what would be a win over Princeton. Because Yale beat Brown, the Bulldogs would be the three seed and the Bears would be the four.
There can also be a three-way tie with Princeton, Cornell and Brown or Princeton, Cornell and Yale. For this to happen, Cornell would obviously have to beat Princeton and either Yale or Brown (but not both) would have to win.
Let's start with the Princeton-Yale-Cornell three-way tie. In this case, Cornell would be the host by being 2-0 against Yale and Princeton. The second seed would be Princeton (1-1), followed by No. 3 Yale. In this scenario, Brown would have to lose to Dartmouth and Harvard would have to lose to Yale, leaving Dartmouth and Brown at 3-3 and Harvard out at 2-4. Dartmouth would get the fourth spot by virtue of its assumed win over Brown. Cornell would play No. 4 Dartmouth and No. 2 Princeton would play No. 3 Yale (Princeton beat Yale).
The Princeton-Brown-Cornell three-way tie is the only one in which the tournament would not be in Princeton or Ithaca. In this case, the three teams would all be 1-1 against each other. Also, to get to this, Harvard would have to beat Yale and Brown would have to beat Dartmouth, eliminating Dartmouth and Yale (Harvard would be fourth with its win over Yale). The next tiebreaker after head-to-head is how the teams did against the next highest seed, in this case Harvard at No. 4. Princeton would be eliminated (and the No. 3 seed) because of its loss to Harvard this past weekend. Brown, which beat Cornell, would be No. 1, and Cornell would be No. 2.
The other possibility that would be created by a Cornell win over Princeton is a two-way tie between the Tigers and Big Red. This would depend on losses by Brown and Yale, which would then create a four-way tie for third between Brown, Yale, Harvard and Dartmouth. Head-to-head for those four would then have Yale and Harvard at 2-1 and Brown and Dartmouth at 1-2, which would send Harvard (as the No. 3) and Yale (as the No. 4) to the tournament.
All of those scenarios depend on a Cornell win over Princeton. Should Princeton beat Cornell, it opens the door to the wildest scenario of all, a situation where Princeton would be 5-1, Penn would be 1-5 and, should Dartmouth beat Brown and Harvard beat Yale, the other five teams would be 3-3. In that case, head-to-head would have all of those teams at 2-2 against each other, so the next criteria would be how they did against the highest seed. This would make Harvard No. 2 as the only team to beat Princeton and send the other four back to head-to-head. Dartmouth and Yale would then be 2-1, while Cornell and Brown would be 1-2, eliminating them. Yale has beaten Dartmouth, so the Bulldogs would become No. 3 and the Big Green would become No. 4.
Should Princeton defeat Cornell, Yale defeat Harvard and Brown beat Dartmouth, then Princeton would be 5-1, Yale and Brown would be 4-2 and Cornell would be 3-3. Harvard and Dartmouth would both be 2-4 and eliminated. Yale's win over Brown would make the Bulldogs the second seed, though it would only matter for who wore what color jeresey.
Should Princeton defeat Cornell, Yale defeat Harvard and Dartmouth defeat Brown, then Princeton is No. 1 at 5-1, Yale is No. 2 at 4-2 and Cornell, Dartmouth and Brown are all 3-3. Head-to-head eliminates Cornell; Dartmouth becomes No. 3 and Brown becomes No. 4.
Lastly, should Princeton defeat Cornell, Harvard defeat Yale and Brown defeat Dartmouth, then Princeton is 5-1, Brown is 4-2 and Cornell, Yale and Harvard are all 3-3. Head-to-head makes Cornell No. 3, and Harvard gets the No. 4 spot by having beaten Yale.
As a reminder, the Ivy tournament determines the league's bid to the NCAA tournament. The Ivy League champion (or champions) will be the team (or teams) who wins the regular-season round robin.