NCAA Preview: Cornell Big Red

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009

Cornell (#14, West, Boise pod)

vs. Missouri (#3)
Mar. 20 @ 3pm

Vegas Line: Cornell +13

General Profile

Location: Ithaca, New York
Conference: Ivy, Automatic
Coach: Steve Donahue, 117-132 (ninth year)
08-09 Record: 21-9 overall, 11-3 Ivy
Last 12 Games: 9-3
Best Win: 79-70, La Salle, Dec. 20
Worst Loss: 61-41, Princeton, Feb. 6
Off. Efficiency Rating: 107.2; 79
Def. Efficiency Rating: 100.0; 143

Nuts n Bolts

Star Player(s): Ryan Wittman (18.5 ppg, .419 3-point percentage, .818 free throw percentage); Louis Dale (13.5 ppg, 3.6 apg, .483 field goal percentage); Jeff Foote (7.1 rpg; 2.1 bpg; 534 field goal percentage)
Unsung Hero: Chris Wroblewski, (.449 3-point percentage)
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Foote or Wittman? Both are darkhorses for sure.
Key Injuries: None
Depth: 28.5 %
Achilles Heel: Quickness. Besides Dale, Cornell will certainly lack the athleticism of other tournament teams. When they have lost this season, the coaches have typically said it’s because they didn’t move well enough without the ball.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: They make their threes and play smart, fundamental basketball – the same way any Ivy team would have a chance of pulling an upset. They’ll need a lot of luck, too.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Any of their ‘Big Three’ have off games. Dale needs to control the tempo, Wittman needs to shoot well and Foote needs to stay out of foul trouble inside.

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2008, 1st-round loss to Stanford
Streak: Two
Best NCAA Finish: This is only Cornell’s fourth trip to the tournament (1954, 1988, 2008). The Big Red have never made it out of the first round, though in 1954 they got a bye into the Sweet 16 before losing to Navy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_NCAA_Men’s_Division_I_Basketball_Tournament).
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): n/a

Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: Before Mark Coury transferred into Cornell from Kentucky, he was an all-state player at Detroit County Day School. Coury, however, is not eligible until next season.
Distance to First Round Site: 2350 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: There are too many famous alumni to count. So let’s go with their most famous fake alumni: Andy from The Office. I think Donahue’s pregame pep talk should go something like this: “You, me, bars, buzzed. Wings. Shots Drunk. Waitresses, hot. Football – Cornell/Hofstra. Slaughter. Then a quick nap at my place and we’ll hit the tiz-own.”
School Wishes It Could Forget: that Ann Coulter graduated from there. And her absurd recent feud with Keith Olbermann over who has the better Cornell diploma.

Prediction: The Big Red will keep it closer than last year’s 24-point whitewashing at the hands of Stanford, but pulling the upset might be too mush to ask. Next year, they shock the world.

Major RTC stories: n/a

Preview written by… Dave Zeitlin

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Checking in on the… Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on March 6th, 2009

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

Right now, the Ivy League is a mess. Somehow, heading into the final weekend of conference play, a Cornell team that is superior to any other in the league has yet to clinch its berth in the Big Dance (remember there’s no conference tournament in the Ivies). Somehow, Princeton – the same Princeton that started 2-8 with losses to mighty teams like Maine, Central Connecticut and Lafayette on its resume – controls its own destiny. And somehow, Yale and Dartmouth – yes, Dartmouth! – are still mathematically alive with two games to play.

Here’s the deal in simplest terms: If Cornell (9-3 league) takes care of business and beats Penn tonight and Princeton tomorrow night at home (where they are undefeated this season), then they win the league. They can also win the league if they beat Penn while Princeton loses at Columbia tonight.  But if Princeton (7-4) is able to sweep Columbia and Cornell this weekend, then the Tigers’ game Tuesday against Penn – the final game of the Ivy League season – could either make or break their chances of winning at least a share of the league title. (In the case of a tie at the top, there would be a one-game playoff between the co-champs with the NCAA berth on the line).

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