(1) Root for the smarty-pants to beat whatever Big Bad Wolf team they draw in the first round;
(2) Unless it's those Princeton Pricks.
As noted last year, the Ivy League had been going down in flames for a dozen years in the first round of the NCAAs...until yesterday's glorious victory by Cornell over Temple, where Cornell shot 56.3%, including 39.1% from behind the arc. Up next: the Wisconsin Badgers, who barely beat the Wofford Terriers in a defense-and-rebounding slugfest that's the hallmark of Wisconsin basketball.
Everyone not from the Cheese State is going to be rooting for Cornell, and Vegas is giving the Big Red some real respect: they're only a 4 point underdog. Still, we can't help but note that this setup is quite similar to the 1994 NCAA Tournament. Let's turn back the clock a little and look at what happened that year.
- The Ivy League's Pennsylvania Quakers finish an excellent 25-3 year by getting an 11-seed and drawing Danny Nee's Nebraska, led by Eric Piatkowski, in the first round. The Quakers shoot lights out, lead by future pros Matt Maloney and Jerome Allen each handing out ten assists and Barry Pierce scoring 25 on 11 for 15 shooting. Penn jumped out to a quick 15-4 lead, and never trailed, eventually winning 90-80. On that night, Penn could have beaten nearly anyone.
- In the next game at the Nassau Coliseum, third-seeded Florida Gators, led by Andrew DeClerq, Dan Cross and Da Meat Hook (Dametri Hill) take on James Madison. In one of the ugliest slugfests ever, the teams combine for fewer than 10 field goals in the first half and JMU leads 22-18 at halftime. About 2/3 of the Coliseum attendees promptly left, and missed a back-and-forth physical matchup, where Florida prevailed by 2.
- Flash forward to Saturday, and everyone in the Nassau Mausoleum is rooting for the Quakers. Alas, not to be: the Quakers can't hit 3's at the same rate, they can't grab a rebound against Florida's massive frontcourt, and are outplayed on the other end to the tune of a 70-58 loss. The game was always close, but never really in doubt.