Game Preview: Yale at Cornell

Shonn Miller and Co. will try to move to over .500 in conference when Cornell takes on Yale on Friday night in Ithaca. (Photo Credit: cornellsun.com)

Yale may not come into Ithaca with the fanfare and national following that

will surround Harvard’s visit in three weeks, but James Jones’ squad is quietly getting things done. The Bulldogs have not won even a share of the Ivy League title since the 2001-2002 season, but are one of three remaining legitimate contenders to this year’s crown. The Bulldogs come into Newman Arena Friday night as hot as any Ivy team. Yale, winner of seven of its last eight, enters the weekend straight off its first sweep of Penn and Princeton since the 2006-07 season. Cornell on the other hand is right about where we expected. The Big Red sits at 3-3 in the league play, a half game up on Princeton for 4th in the Ivy standings. A solid showing at home against Yale and Brown will keep the Big Red in the upper half of the league, where Bill Courtney believes his squad belongs.

Matchups to Watch

The Kitchen Sink vs. Greg Mangano

Cornell will throw anything and everything at Greg Mangano Friday night. The Big Red will likely start with Eitan Chemerinski on the Player of the Year candidate, but expect a healthy dose of Josh Figini, Dave LaMore, and even some Shonn Miller to guard Mangano.

Mangano gets it done at both ends of the floor, leading the Ivy League in points (19.0), rebounds (10.0), and blocked shots (2.5) this season. Mangano is a complete big man. He’s big and rangy, has excellent mobility, and can extend defense to the three-point line.

Defensively, Cornell needs to play solid defense in the post and deny the entry pass to Mangano. Cornell can live with Mangano facing up from the perimeter, but needs to limit his back-to-the-basket opportunities. If Mangano starts to get comfortable down on the block, this one could be over before it starts.

Cornell did a good job on Mangano in both games last season. It will be interesting to see how Mangano adjusts and what Courtney draws up for this next matchup.

Keys to the Game

Rebounding, Rebounding, Rebounding

If there’s one thing Yale does right, it’s rebound the basketball. Yale sports the best rebounding margin in the league ( 6.8) while Cornell sits at the bottom of that list (-6.8). More importantly, Yale is the best offensive rebounding team in the Ancient Eight (10.6 per game). It is crucial that Cornell holds Yale to one shot per possession. Yale leads the Ivy League in scoring, averaging a shade over 71 points-per-game. If Yale dominates the offensive glass and sees more scoring opportunities, the Big Red may not have enough offensive fire power best online casino to compete. If Cornell can keep the rebounding margin close, it will be a game. If Yale can balloon the rebounding margin out to the way it did at Brown earlier this season ( 18), the Bulldogs will cruise.

The Three Point Shot

Simple: Cornell needs to hit them; Yale needs to defend them.

Not allowing Mangano the opportunity to take over this game will be huge for Cornell and if there’s one thing that can neutralize an imposing front court, it’s getting hot from the outside. A hot shooting night for Cornell will take Mangano out of the game defensively and put the offensive burden on the Yale guards.

Yale has done a good job defending the three-point line this season and Cornell has struggled at times shooting from deep, but if there’s one thing the Ivy League knows well, it’s that Cornell is not afraid to launch it and it has the shooters to get hot.

Prediction

Yale has the edge in this game, there’s no question about that, but I think Friday night will be closer than a lot of people expect. Cornell is good enough to play within a tight margin of just about anyone. Thirteen of the Red’s 17 games this season were decided by single digits and a little home cooking should keep it there against Yale. The difference is that for Yale to win, pure execution should be enough. For Cornell to win, it will need a little something extra beyond executing its game plan. I expect a solid showing from Cornell, but in the end, James Jones’ team will avenge its loss in Ithaca from a season ago.

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