Bracket Buster Alert: Cornell Big Red

Wittman and Cornell matchup well with Temple, setting up an intiguing Second-Round meeting with Kentucky. (Pic via cornellbasketball.blogspot.com)

In addition to being known as an outstanding academic institution, Cornell is perhaps most famous for being the proud Alma Mater of Andy Bernard from “The Office.” The Big Red’s hoops squad gained notoriety by taking top-ranked Kansas to the wire earlier in the season at Allen Fieldhouse. Cornell is a talented, experience team with good size and a nice inside-outside scoring combination.

ToTheTin presents a closer look at the Cornell Big Red:

Key Wins: Alabama, Penn, Saint John’s, Vermont

Interesting losses: @ Kansas, @ Syracuse, @ Penn

Strengths

A veteran team with three good ball-handlers. Ryan Wittman, son of former NBA coach Randy Wittman, averages 17 points a game to lead the Big Red in scoring. But the most important player is seven-footer Jeff Foote, who commands double-teams in the post freeing up shooters outside. Wittman is one of five regulars who shoots above 40 percent from 3-point range. Cornell is accustomed to playing against good competition and certainly won’t be intimidated by the likes of Temple or Kentucky.

Weaknesses

Not overly athletic or quick. Cornell generally goes eight deep, but there is a big drop-off between starters and reserves. Non-conference schedule was pretty solid for an Ivy League school but not great overall. Foote’s physicality is rarely tested and double-teams will come faster against quicker NCAA Tournament opponents. Not surprisingly, there is not much depth behind Foote if he gets in foul-trouble.

Projection

On ESPN’s Selection Sunday Special, Jay Bilas said that nobody can match Kentucky’s talent–then promptly picked Cornell to upset the Wildcats. Talk about a bold move. Temple came on strong late in the year and presents a very formidable First-Round foe for the Big Red. The Owls are a good matchup for Cornell, but Kentucky is not. Cornell’s seeding makes a run to the Sweet 16 very unlikely. The 3-pointer can be a great equalizer, so you never know.

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