Yale loses twice on Sunday, first to Princeton and then to the NIT

Yale's Jordan Bruner looks on during the second half of an NCAA college basketball championship game in the Ivy League Tournament against the Princeton, Sunday, March 12, 2017, in Philadelphia. Princeton won 71-59. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Yale’s basketball team had a double dose of losses Sunday. Early in the day the Bulldogs were systematically defeated by Princeton, 71-59, in the championship game of the Ivy League’s inaugural tournament at the Penn Palestra in Philadelphia. If Yale had been able to defeat the Tigers it would have received an entry into the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year.

Instead, Princeton will be going, and has drawn Notre Dame as its opponent.

After the NCAA fell through, a pretty good alternative remained a possibility — the National Invitational Tournament. But, to the disappointment of Coach James Jones and his group of overachievers, the NIT in this case stood for “No Invitation Tournament.” The Bulldogs were shut out of the NIT as they were two years ago, after they lost a playoff game to Harvard in the final seconds, also at the Palestra.

Harvard and Princeton in less than 24-hours, just too much

On Saturday, in the semi-finals, Yale defeated Harvard, 73-71, giving it a place in the tournament’s championship game against vy undefeated Princeton.

But having to face both Harvard and Princeton back-to-back, within less than 24 hours, proved to be too much of a challenge, as it would for many teams. As it was, Yale led much of the first half against Princeton, once by seven, and trailed by only two going into the break.

Yale not interested in the CIT or CBA

There are two other post-season competitions,both privately run, the College Insider dot com Tournament and the College Basketball Invitational. Yale probably could have played in either, but the team elected not to go if the opportunity arose.

And so Yale has finished its season at 18-11. The graduation and injury-depleted Bulldogs, with high-quality help from two untested freshmen, Miye Oni and Jordan Bruner, probably exceeded the realistic expectations of most of its followers

Yale’s returning star, injured in the pre-season and arguably its best player, Makai Mason, did not drop out of school to redshirt. He was on the Yale bench for the two games at the Palestra, dressed in business attire at the Harvard game and today wearing a warm-up suit.

Next season Mason expects to be in a Yale basketball uniform again, and ready to help lead the team to what it just missed out on this year — a ticket to the Big Dance.

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