The Ivy League has changed the schedule of its basketball tournaments in March, eliminating the quadrupleheader slate of men’s and women’s games that was used in the event’s first three seasons.
The women’s semifinals have been moved to a day earlier, Friday, March 13, at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., both streamed on ESPN+. The men’s semifinals will stay on March 14, set for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on ESPNU. The women’s final will follow at 5 p.m. Saturday on ESPNews.
The men’s final will be March 15 at noon on ESPN2.
The format remains the same otherwise: The top four men’s and top four women’s teams in the regular-season standings reach the tournaments, with the winners getting the conference’s automatic NCAA Tournament berths.
Ivy League executive director Robin Harris said that the schedule change resulted from multiple factors. One was that the league’s women’s coaches wanted better times for their games, instead of being beholden to the men’s schedule. That was achieved.
The league’s athletic directors don’t want to have empty seats left by fans of schools not playing in a given game. So each contest will have its own ticket, and the gym will be cleared each time.
“In the past, they’ve been buying a ticket that includes other games and they are choosing to generally not stay,” she said. “Maybe that means there aren’t as many basketball junkies out there as we had thought. So we’re going to try this.”
Harris was defiant about hosting the tournaments at Harvard’s 1,636-seat Lavietes Pavilion. Last year, the Ivy League began a rotation of the tournaments around the conference’s eight schools. As of now, the Palestra — whose 8,722 seats are often filled by basketball junkies — won’t host again until at least 2026.
Asked if Lavietes is too small to be practical, she said: “Oh, not at all. We think it’s going to be an amazing atmosphere for every single game. It’s going to be awesome.”
Tickets went on sale Monday via Harvard’s website, tickets.gocrimson.com/IvyMadness, with a pre-sale for schools’ season-ticket holders before general public sales begin.
An all-session pass for the men’s tournament games costs $150 or $200, depending on the section. An all-session pass for the women’s games costs $40 or $50.
A school-specific block, which gives entry for games that school’s team is playing, costs $55 or $75 for the men’s tournament and $15 or $20 for the women’s. Those purchases are fully refundable if a school’s team does not qualify.
The league will continue to host free-of-charge open shootarounds to start the weekend. Women’s teams will practice on March 12, and men’s teams will practice during the day on March 13.
When the ticket prices were announced, some fans raised eyebrows about the discrepancy between the men’s and women’s costs. The Ivy League values gender equity, and the principle is why both tournaments are at the same site. In past years, all-session tickets included both tournaments’ games. That understandably can’t happen at Harvard, but the price gap still got noticed.
“I think it’s the reality based on how it works across the country, including within the Ivy League,” Harris said. “What we’re focused on is making sure that the women have an equitable atmosphere as compared to the men. … The athletic directors picked a model that is fan-friendly: it’s designed for both the men and the women to fill Lavietes.”