Monday, March 22, 2010

Day 4 Postmortem: Cinderella in Red

The lady in red is dancing with me cheek to cheek
There's nobody here, it's just you and me, It's where I wanna be
But I hardly know this beauty by my side
I'll never for get, the way you look tonight

Complete with two days of frantically maximizing and minimizing windows on my computer and deftly switching feeds to avoid commercial breaks at work, one daylong marathon of drinking cheap draft beer at a bar and one afternoon into early evening of laying around the house with games on the television, the past 96 hours had a little bit of everything that I've come to love about the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

Also, a smattering of gambling. There was that, too.

Looking back over the enervating four-day stretch, I'd say the teams that I was most right about were Cornell, Purdue and Murray State. And I was most wrong about St. Mary's and Xavier, having tapped both teams for first-round exits.

I was most impressed by Syracuse and most surprised by Washington. With Wes Johnson having regained his early-season form (he went for 31 and 14 as the Orange rolled the Zags), Jim Boeheim's group have looked unbeatable. Kentucky has looked as explosive as ever while Ohio State, Kansas State, Duke, St. Mary's and West Virginia have all outclassed the opposition. Purdue has shown tremendous resolve on the defensive end while Michigan State, Xavier and Butler are playing like teams that have been on this stage before.

That leaves is with the Panthers of Norther Iowa and the Big Red from Cornell.

Cornell has flat-out dominated matchups with Temple and Wisconsin. The Ivy Leaguers are +13 on the boards after outrebounding both opponents. They are also got to the line a lot more than Temple and made just as many free throws as Wisconsin. These are not the traits of your stereotypical three-point happy Cinderella. And that doesn't mean that Cornell hasn't been shooting the lights so far. They have. But they've also been doing things that midmajors are usually unable to do against big-time competition. With a skilled seven-footer, an elite swingman and a savvy point guard peaking at the right time, the Big Red have as good a chance against Kentucky as most teams (read: not a very good chance).

And as far as NIU, I'll let this shot do the talking:

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