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Know Thy Big Red Enemy

Syracuse welcomes Cornell into the Dome on Saturday. I'd love to give you a full preview of the Big Red but...well, I don't know too much about them. But I know who does...The Cornell Basketball Blog. Good thing I asked the folks over there some questions on what to expect about our upcoming opponent.

TNIAAM: Top three things Syracuse fans need to know about Cornell basketball.


CBB:
Well an interesting factoid is that Cornell's 1988 Ivy Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance was the last NCAA tournament appearance by an Ivy League team not named Penn or Princeton. If Cornell wins the Ivy this year, it would mark the 20th anniversary of Cornell's last tournament appearance. When watching the game, Syracuse fans should always keep in mind that Cornell, as an Ivy League member, does not award athletic scholarships. Cornell only awards need-based financial aid to its athletes. So, high admissions requirements aside, not having scholarships is just another big hurdle in the recruiting wars for Division I caliber talent. Cornell basketball has several recent grads playing professionally in Europe, South America and in minor leagues here in the U.S. Additionally, in the last three years, Cornell has sent grads from the basketball program to medical school, Harvard Law School and into the business world.

TNIAAM:
Why is Cornell going to beat Syracuse?

CBB:
They only way Cornell beats Syracuse is if the Big Red knocks down the open jumpers, while Syracuse suffers through a tougher than usual shooting night. Cornell really needs to put forth is best defensive effort of the season.

TNIAAM:
Why is Syracuse going to beat Cornell?

CBB: The Orange have just too much athleticism and of course, the home court Dome crowd.

TNIAAM:
What kind of significance does the Syracuse game hold for Cornell fans?

CBB:
Ivies generally do not get at-large bids to the NCAA tournament and there is no conference tournament. Accordingly, the only games that truly matter for Cornell and the Ivies are the 14 Ivy League regular season games. We in the Ivy League call it, "The 14 Game Tournament." A game against Syracuse is preparation for the Ivy League slate and an opportunity to match up against a team with more athleticism and team speed than Cornell's usual Ivy opponents. We hope to get better by playing a team like Syracuse before a Dome crowd.

TNIAAM:
Is this the year Cornell makes the Big Dance?

CBB: The Cornell Basketball Blog picked Cornell to finish third during the preseason. Right now, that prediction is looking just about right. Cornell has lost some disappointing games this year and is riding a two game losing streak to a pair of Patriot League programs, Colgate and Bucknell. Most national preseason publications picked Cornell to win the Ivy League.

TNIAAM:
You guys head to Duke after the New Year, shaking in your boots?

CBB:
The Cornell kids are excited to play in Cameron, in that kind of environment, but Cornell has nothing to lose. Duke is just a game to help prepare Cornell for the 14 Ivy League games. Yes, Cornell will try to beat Duke and Syracuse, but the ultimate goal is to go 14-0 in the Ivy League.

TNIAAM:
Quick prediction for the Cornell season, record-wise?

CBB:
Right now, Cornell is looking like a .500 type Ivy club between 7 to 9 wins in 14 Ivy games). Cornell has the talent to win the Ivy League, but they have not showed enough defensive intensity for a full 40 minute game.

TNIAAM:
Are you a Cornell lacrosse follower as well? You guys are building quite a program over there.

CBB:
Yes, big lacrosse fan. Cornell has a strong winning tradition in lacrosse, hockey and wrestling (among other men's sports). It would be nice to see the basketball program hang some banners too. Thanks to the CBB and good luck to them on Saturday. The way this season has been going for the Orange, nothing is out of the realm of possibility. Apparently Card Chronicle seems to think so as well (#42).




(Photo: Cornell Basketball Blog)