...or more accurately, the Big Red ran into DeMarcus Cousins.
While we gather submissions for the interactive invention bracket, I thought I'd briefly reflect on last night's game.
Well, Kentucky is better. A lot better. In fact, I think that Kentucky easily wins 9 out of 10 hypothetical matchups vs Cornell and would probably grind out a win in that 10th game too. They're just too fast and too strong. And not in a 2007 Patriots vs Giants kinda way in which the Giants can compensate for their lack of athleticism in some areas by riding the underdog wave...and still being equally athletic in other areas (namely on defense and at running back). This Cornell team was just not as athletic, as talented or as ready for the big stage as Kentucky. The real question is why we deluded ourselves into thinking that Cornell had a chance (and by we, I am referring specifically to the pundits, because Cornell alumni HAVE to delude themselves into thinking their school has a chance--we've invested over $100,000 in the school and we're looking for some return on that investment in the form of one successful basketball season). Let's debunk a couple myths here...
1. Cornell had Tournament experience, having won the Ivy League and advancing to the Tournament in each of the two years before this.
Oh right, that was when they lost by 24 and 19 in their first round games to Stanford and Missouri, respectively. As John McCain proved, experience can help you win a primary or two (first two rounds) but eventually you're going to be exposed as the old guy who can't lift his arms above his head to get a rebound. (I can't believe I just compared this Cornell team to John McCain. I'm going to hell.)
Also, if we're talking experience, let's put that in perspective. Prior to this year, Cornell had 0 wins ever in the NCAA Tournament. That means that, pre 2010, Cornell as a school had as many NCAA Tournament victories as this person, this person and this person combined (I don't know who that last guy is but I'm pretty sure he's never won an NCAA Tournament game).
2. Cornell hung with Kansas at Kansas earlier in the season. Why not Kentucky?
Well, I guess there's no difference...besides the fact that Kansas plays in half court sets that are amenable to the style that Cornell plays; or that Kansas played Cornell in a classic trap game in early January during which Kansas was either worn out from a tough game at Temple before or looking ahead to their next game, an even tougher one at Tennessee; or that Kansas as a team had anyone that really struck fear in you besides Cole Aldrich, who was largely neutralized by Jeff Foote, or Sherron Collins at the end of the game.
Kentucky, on the other hand, has four potential lottery picks this year who ALL strike fear in you, are all freakishly athletic and can all step back and hit a jump shot if they need to. Even the role players like Daniel Orton and Ramon Harris play that same style. If you're playing your game, you can shoot a team like Kansas out of the gym. Kentucky's style, though, doesn't lend itself to being outshot because they will just outrun, outhustle, or outphysical you for 40 minutes (nevermind the made up words).
To sum it up:
It was a fun run. I never thought I'd see Cornell advance to a Sweet 16 (like I really never even thought about it--it's not like it had occurred to me and I thought it couldn't happen). Next year, we'll go back to the cellar of the Ivy League where we belong, Louis Dale will be playing in Europe (after emerging as arguably Cornell's best player, or definitively as Cornell's steadiest player), Ryan Wittman will be playing in Europe (after NBA scouts realize that he really can't create his own shot against NBA-level talent) and Jeff Foote will be playing in Europe (after NBA scouts realize that he wanted no part in defending NBA-level talent). Order in the world will be restored...so long as Duke doesn't win.