Cornell vs. Penn is far from the biggest rivalry in the Ivy League. Some may even argue whether the word rivalry could even be used to discuss the competition between the two teams. However, it seems that every time these two schools meet, something worth watching happens.
- 03/07/08 – Cornell 94 – Penn 92 (Palestra): A back-and-forth high scoring affair, which included two Adam Gore 4-point plays in one half. The contest didn’t end without its share of controversy as Freshman Tyler Bernardini’s missed heave at the buzzer left Quaker fans looking for a foul call that would have given Penn a chance to win it.
- 03/06/09 – Cornell 83 – Penn 59 (Newman Arena) – With the victory, Cornell clinched its second straight Ivy League title and another trip to the NCAA Tournament. Plenty of court storming was had by all in Ithaca.
- 02/12/10 – Penn 79 – #22 Cornell 64 (Palestra) – Penn takes down the nationally ranked Cornell Big Red in a victory that resulted in Penn students storming the floor and a live ESPN interview for Coach Jerome Allen and Zack Rosen.
- 02/11/11 – Cornell 82 – Penn 71 (OT) (Newman Arena) – Arguably the wackiest
finish of any Ivy League game last season. The score was 63-63 with time running out. Chris Wroblewski’s three-point attempt to win was off the mark, but Mark Coury was there with the follow as the buzzer sounded, sending Newman Nation into a frenzy. As quickly as the crowd erupted was as quickly as cheers turned to boos. Coury was whistled for a loose ball foul, putting Conor Turley to the line for two, with a chance to win. Turley would miss both, sending the game into overtime.
Even with the lack of a defined rivalry, there is something about this matchup that brings the best out of both teams. Saturday’s contest should be no different.
Keys To The Game
Stop Zack Rosen
Rosen is the lifeblood of this Penn team. This season, he has been on the court over 93% of the time and has taken over 25% of Penn’s field goal attempts. Rosen is a guard who has the ability to hurt a team from anywhere on the court. This season, he is shooting a career high 47.4% from the field and 42.6% from deep, while averaging a career high 6.3 assists per game.
Rosen is by no means Penn’s only offensive weapon, but stopping him could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Rosen averages 5 points per game less and 10 shooting percentage points less in Penn’s losses than he does in Penn’s wins.
This will not be an easy task for the Red, especially with Miles Asafo-Adjei, Cornell’s best defender, out recovering from an infected leg. Expect Bill Courtney to go deep into his bench to hound Rosen, especially in a Saturday night league game.
The 3-point Shot
The 3-point shot will be key for Penn from both an offensive and defensive standpoint. Offensively, Penn shoots 35.8% as a team from beyond the arc. Cornell though, has done a great job of limiting its opponents to 28.0% from three this season. The Quakers will have to knock down open perimeter shots when they get them as they may not get as many good looks as they are accustomed to.
Defensively, Penn is matching up against a Cornell team that is shooting threes at a pretty average rate (33.6%), but taking more of them as a percentage of their total shots (37.8%) than all but 13 teams in the country. This creates an intriguing match-up. To take control Saturday night, Penn will have to control the perimeter and force Cornell out of its comfort zone.
I believe Cornell will escape from its Penn-Princeton weekend with at least one victory. There is too much parity in the middle of the Ivy League and Cornell has been too impressive at home this season to lose both. Because my colleague, Sam Aleinikoff predicted a Princeton victory over Cornell Friday night, I have to go with the Big Red in this contest to meet my one-win weekend prediction.