Cornell Top Stories of 2010 – #4: Sweet 16
Posted by Cornell Insider Staff on December 28, 2010
After a near perfect season in the Ivy League, the Cornell men’s basketball team advanced to the NCAA tournament as the 12th seed in the East Region. Amidst one of the most difficult weeks for Cornell students in recent memory, the team took to the court against 5th seeded Temple University. The Owls proved no match for Big Red’s high powered, 3-point shooting offense. Led by Louis Dale, the Big Red established an early lead and never looked back, finishing the game with a solid 78-65 win. This was the first victory for an Ivy League team in the tournament since Princeton beat UNLV in 1998.
Up next was 4th seeded Wisconsin. Many Big Red fans would have been accepting of a loss in the second round- nobody expected the team to beat a 5th seed and a 4th seed in consecutive games. But once again, Wisconsin was unable to handle Cornell’s high octane offense. The Big Red defeated Wisconsin by an even larger margin, 87-69, and advanced as the lowest-seeded team remaining in the tournament.
The next game against #1 seeded Kentucky had all the makings of a true David versus Goliath matchup. The press got all over comparing the drastically different school profiles and sports programs, and the game became one of the more anticipated (definitely most intriguing) matchups of the Sweet 16. But even though most fans realized that the show was probably over, there was still a glimmer of hope. And for about five minutes, as the Big Red began draining 3-pointers at the beginning of the game, it looked like maybe there was a chance that the unknown Cornell men’s basketball team could knock out the best team in the country. But the Kentucky offense quickly took off, putting together a 30-6 run to close the half with a 16 point lead. Cornell put up a valiant fight in the second half, cutting Kentucky’s lead to 6 points with five minutes left, but ultimately losing the game 62-45.
The run was over. Cornell did not even get the satisfaction of losing to the eventual national champion- Kentucky lost to West Virginia in their next game.
Perhaps Big Red fans can still find some solace in the fact that all of the Kentucky starters were drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft, or that John Wall is already tearing it up in the big leagues after tearing up the Big Red’s defense. But the Sweet 16 run will always be remembered for the way the men’s basketball team left an unmistakable sense of triumph lingering on a campus that was still reeling from tragedy. An equally successful tournament doesn’t look likely this year- the team has lost seven in a row; but perhaps there’s still a chance that the sports pendulum will continue to swing east towards the Ivies.