Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cornell-Wisconsin: 1994 Redux?

Your humble Gazette authors, being Penn and Columbia alums, have a pretty straightforward ethos when it comes to the Ivy League in the NCAAs:

(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.
We want to see the Quakers move on to play Kentucky, if only because John Wall versus the Ivies would be a hoot. But we wonder if we're in for another disappointment today, because it'll be tough for the Big Red to go inside on the Badgers and they may not shoot 56% again.


Corey said...

So who do you root for in a Princeton-Duke first round matchup?

El Angelo said...

We'll burn that bridge when we come to it, but almost certainly Princeton. Their coach is not a whiny prick.

El Angelo said...

This may be the least accurate post we've made since my '09 Derby picks.

Teddy said...

As I mentioned to Ang, the new parallel here is the '96 Princeton team, which upset UCLA before losing to Mississippi State.

The UCLA win was down to a veteran team and a good coach out-scheming and out-executing a decent UCLA team. The MSU loss came about because that MSU team was too dumb to notice they were being outsmarted, and couldn't be outschemed because they had no plays. Lots of overlap there with UK.

El Angelo said...

Live by the 3, die by the 3. If Cornell had shot 5-for-21 against Wisconsin or Temple, they would have gone home then.