The last conference to award their automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament to their regular season champion is no more.
Today, the Ivy League announced that starting next season, they will hold four-team tournaments at the Palestra in Philadelphia for men's and women's basketball. The top four teams in the standings at the end of the regular season will compete in the tournament and the winner will claim the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The tournament will be held over two days. The semifinals will take place on the Saturday before Selection Sunday, with the championship held the next day, on Selection Sunday. (I know, just what bracketologists want, another championship game the day final brackets are due).
The conference schedule will remain at 14 games (double-round robin), but each team will now play one less regular season game outside of conference play.
Despite the conference tournament, the Ivy will still recognize the regular season champions as the Ivy League champion.
In a statement, Ivy League executive director Robin Harris said "The structure of our basketball tournaments is consistent with our model of college athletics and the format allows us to preserve the significance of the regular season." Except it kind of doesn't. Just ask all the other small school leagues how much the regular season means. So far, 12 teams have qualified for the NCAA Tournament as conference tournament winners. Only one of those 12 (Chattanooga) won the regular season title. Heck, Austin Peay won the Ohio Valley tournament as the No. 8 seed and Holy Cross just won the Patriot League tournament as the No. 9 seed.
Nonetheless, the Ivy will move ahead with these conference tournaments for at least the next three seasons, though only the 2017 tournament site is known right now.