Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas
It wasn’t stunning to see Cornell pull away from a highly touted Temple team in the first round of the NCAA tournament in their 78-65 win. It wasn’t even stunning to see Cornell shoot threes the way Cornell shot threes against Temple – that’s what they do.
What was stunning was the fact that Cornell was made a number 12 seed – all because of one loss. While many people correctly thought that Temple should have been a number four (some even thought three) seed, Cornell was hurt far more in the seeding.
And make no mistake: This was no “shocking upset.” Even the bookmakers knew that, making Temple only a four-point favorite. This was, at most, a minor upset. No matter what you hear from the “experts.”
Cornell cracked the top 25 this year a week or two after almost beating number one Kansas in Kansas. It was inexplicable to this writer that Cornell wasn’t already a top 25 (or even a top 20) team after leading most of that game on the road against Kansas (see Kallas Remarks, 12/23/09 and 1/7/10).
ONE LOSS COST CORNELL EVERYTHING (IN TERMS OF SEEDING)
The NCAA generally frowns upon the Ivy League champ. But this Cornell team, early on, showed that it wasn’t really an “Ivy” team (whatever that means). As everybody now knows, they have Jeff Foote, a seven-footer who can play and who has improved a lot even from earlier this season, never mind from past seasons (becoming an NBA prospect in the minds of some). They have a lights-out shooter in Ryan Wittman (son of NBA player Randy Wittman), who is the Ivy League Player of the Year, Cornell’s all-time leading scorer (and three-point scorer) and also an NBA prospect.
They also have Louis Dale, a solid point guard (21 points, 7 assists v. Temple) who was the Ivy League Player of the Year two years ago as a sophomore. They also have a bunch of other players who can play.
But, after losing to now #1 seed Syracuse early on and Seton Hall when Jeremy Hazell played like JEREMY HAZELL (that is, one of the best scorers in the country), Cornell, at 2-2, ran off 10 wins in a row, including winning the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. After leading Kansas most of the way and losing by five, Cornell ran off another eight in a row.
And then, inexplicably, at 20-3, they lost to lowly Penn. And virtually every poll voter wrote them off and out of the top 25.
THE PROBLEM WITH IVIES AND POLLS
It was virtually irrelevant that Cornell then ran off another seven consecutive victories since they were all “only” Ivy wins. So they can’t recover from one bad loss, in the eyes of the poll voters (and, apparently, the NCAA selection committee), and never really got any respect from the committee.
Think about it. If Cornell beats Penn, they are 28-3 with losses to two number one seeds. They are probably a top 20 team come tournament-selection time. You know they would never be a five seed (even if they should have been), but they could have been a six or a seven and would have been at least an eight or a nine seed.
SO BOTH TEMPLE AND CORNELL GOT SHAFTED
Temple should have been higher (maybe) and shouldn’t have played a team as tough as Cornell. But, more importantly, Cornell should have been much higher and shouldn’t have played a team as tough as Temple. The Ivy League Champ, in recent years, always seems to get knocked down a peg or four in the seedings.
Maybe the committee will remember this huge mistake next year.
WHERE DOES CORNELL GO FROM HERE?
Well, Wisconsin didn’t look very good just beating Wofford and Cornell looked great beating Temple. But looks can be deceiving in the NCAA tornament. This will be a tough game, but it says here that Cornell’s run continues to at least next weekend.
KENTUCKY WOULD BE THEIR TOUGHEST NUMBER ONE MATCHUP
In addition to being seeded number 12, Cornell also got placed in the worst bracket from a-game-with-a-number-one (if they get that far) perspective. Cornell could beat Kansas on a neutral court (they almost beat them in Kansas and Foote is even better now than he was then). It says here they could beat Duke (the weakest of the ones) and, if they shoot the lights out (which they can), they could beat Syracuse’s 2-3 zone.
But Kentucky has at least three pros and will be Cornell’s toughest matchup with any of the one seeds. But it says here that they can even beat Kentucky, a young team, with a little luck and continued great shooting.
We’ll see what happens.
© Copyright 2010 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.