Right now the general perception around the college basketball universe about the Ivy League is that it’s Harvard and everybody else. The second through eighth positions in the league are wide open. Where will the separation start to show? Non-conference play. Yes, the Crimson have to win some marquee games in order to challenge for a Top 25 spot, but the rest of the league will be attempting to establish some bonafides before beating up on each other during the 14-game tournament.
- Harvard at Connecticut, Jan. 8, 2014 (ESPNU) – The Huskies are supposed to be an NCAA at-large contender out of the American Athletic Conference. This is the Crimson’s final chance to show they belong before they move into Ivy League play.
- Brown at Providence, Nov. 13, 2013 – Just because this happened last season.
- Princeton at Butler, Nov. 16, 2013 – Hinkle Fieldhouse is one of the most historic venues in all of college basketball. The Bulldogs and Tigers are both rebuilding this season, so this could be a good first indication about where both teams are headed this season.
- Penn vs. Penn State, Nov. 16, 2013 – This is a huge opportunity for the Quakers because the Nittany Lions are coming to The Palestra. Penn should be improved from last season, but it’s still going to be awfully hard to take down a Big Ten opponent. On the plus side, this game is at home. Outside of Harvard’s games, this is probably the Ivy League’s best chance to defeat a major conference team.
- Harvard at Great Alaska Shootout, Nov. 28-30 (CBS College Sports) – This is another opportunity for the Crimson to get some decent wins. While this event doesn’t have the cachet it used to, Denver isn’t an awful opening round game. The rest of the field includes Green Bay, Tulsa and Indiana State. Those are decent mid-major opponents, which could prove to be a problem on a neutral court as well. (On the other hand, the only major conference team in the field – TCU – is a classic high-major in name only.)
- Penn’s Big 5 games – Always entertaining. This includes two big Saturdays in January, as they take on LaSalle and Saint Joseph’s two weeks apart (Nov. 4 and 18th).
- Columbia vs. St. John’s, Dec. 28, 2013 – This game will take play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. It’s sure to be packed with Red Storm fans, but it’s as close as you can get to a neutral court in the city.
- Yale vs. Vermont, Jan. 8, 2014 – This game is early January, right as conference play gets closer. Vermont is the class of the America East conference and should give the Bulldogs an excellent test heading into Ivy League play.
- Cornell at Stony Brook, Dec. 22, 2013 – This should be a good early test around the holidays for the Big Red. They’ll be taking on SBU on Dec. 22 and then about a week later (Dec. 28) they’ll take on Saint Peter’s. It’s a long round-trip, but a few good road tests for Cornell.
- Harvard at Colorado, Nov. 24, 2013 – It’s tough to find teams that’ll actually play Harvard this season, considering all the hype the Crimson’s roster has accumulated this offseason. One team willing to take the plunge are the Buffaloes. Tommy Amaker’s team will take on Colorado on their way out to the Great Alaska Shootout. The game will be on ESPNU.
A few mid-majors that will tell us a bit about the Ivy League during non-conference because multiple teams play against them during non-conference play:
- Lafayette (Yale, Penn, Princeton)
- Binghamton (Brown, Cornell)
- Bryant (Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth)
- Fairleigh Dickinson (Columbia, Princeton)
- Vermont (Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale)