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The Ivies Are Coming

It’s happening quite a bit lately

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NCAA Basketball: Princeton at Duke
Dec 18, 2018; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) lays the ball up over Princeton Tigers guard Myles Stephens (left) during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Nonconference play more or less concludes during the first week in January, capped by two Ivy League teams coming to the state of North Carolina to face ACC men’s squads. On January 2 Cornell is at Wake Forest, Harvard at North Carolina to meet the Tar Heels.

Forays from the erudite north are nothing exceptional. But look more closely and, if you get the sense this is happening more often, you’re correct. What’s different this season is the increase in the sheer number of ACC contests against Ivy Leaguers, who have become more competitive with power conference opponents.

This year there are eight games against the Ivies, most at least since the ACC expanded in 2014. Follow the drift of scheduling, and the number of such contests has risen almost steadily over the past six seasons.

Leading the way is Cornell, with nine games over that period. Tommy Amaker’s Harvard squad and Yale each played six ACC opponents, the Elis visiting Duke and beating Miami this season. Harvard beat Boston College every year from 2009 through 2014, home and away. The same-city schools haven’t played since a Crimson victory in 2017; BC coach Jim Christian cites vague scheduling difficulties.

Playing these games doubtless is part of a strategy to boost power ratings and attract higher-profile recruits for the Ivy League.

Oddly, or maybe not, some ACC clubs are entirely beyond interacting with the Ivies. During the last six years at least, none of the Ivy eight have visited Clemson, Florida State, NC State, Pitt or Virginia Tech.

On the other hand, Brown hasn’t played an ACC team since visiting Virginia Tech in 2009-10. The Bears tend not to travel south of New York when playing outside their conference.

Brown has the third-smallest student body in the league after Dartmouth and Princeton. The Rhode Island school also has the league’s smallest endowment, a mere $3.5 billion in 2017. Harvard led at $37.1 billion.

Notre Dame had the largest endowment in the ACC at $9.4 billion. Duke, which some pretentiously refer to as the Harvard of the South, had a $7.9 billion endowment in 2017, less than a billion behind UVa. No word on whether Harvard basketball aspires to be the Duke of the North. Then again, why not?

Ivy League Teams Facing ACC Members, Since 2014
Year Schls Ivies Specific Schools
2019 6 8 Columbia, Cornell (2), Harvard, Penn, Princeton, Yale (2)
2018 4 5 Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth (2), Yale
2017 6 7 Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Yale (2)
2016 4 5 Cornell (2), Harvard, Penn, Yale
2015 3 4 Cornell, Harvard (2), Princeton
2014 2 3 Cornell (2), Harvard

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