Cornell men’s basketball earns No. 3 seed in Ivy Madness, even matchup with No. 2 Yale

Heading into the final day of the regular season, the Cornell men still had an outside shot at a share of the Ivy League regular-season title. For starters, the Big Red needed to beat Columbia. That happened.

Cornell shot 55% from the field and six players scored in double digits as the Big Red won 98-76. Sophomore guard Cooper Noard had 17 points off five triples, junior guard Nazir Williams and senior forward Sean Hansen each had 14 and junior forward Guy Ragland Jr. scored 13.

Then, the Big Red needed Yale to lose to Brown — which also happened as Aaron Cooley sunk an improbable last-second shot in overtime. Lastly, Princeton needed to lose to Penn, but that didn’t happen as the Tigers dropped 105 on the Red and Blue.

Princeton finished the season 12-2 in the league to win the Ivy outright. Yale and Cornell finished 11-3, and since the teams split in the regular season, official seeding came down to the NET rankings Sunday morning. The Bulldogs landed at No. 86, two slots above the Big Red to earn the No. 2 seed — not that it matters much since the teams are facing off in Saturday’s Ivy Madness semifinals regardless.

So after Princeton and Brown battle it out in Manhattan Saturday at 11 a.m. on ESPNU, it’ll be a rubber match between Cornell and Yale in the highly anticipated No. 2 v. No. 3 game slated for 2 p.m. on ESPNEWS.

Both regular-season meetings came down to the wire. In the Feb. 10 battle of the unbeatens in New Haven, Cornell led most of the game before a late three-point play by senior Matt Knowling resulted in an 80-78 Yale win. Two weeks later in Ithaca, the Big Red fought off a rally from the Bulldogs to win 65-62.

These two squads couldn’t be more evenly matched.

In the meantime, Cornell gets to wait and see if it’ll win any league awards. Leading the Big Red at 12.6 points and 2.2 steals, senior guard Chris Manon has an argument for first-team all-Ivy. At 11.7 points, Williams also has a case for some sort of All-Ivy award.

Brian Earl has another convincing case for Coach of the Year, but Mike Martin, who led Brown to Ivy Madness for the first time, is the likely frontrunner. Or maybe Mitch Henderson could win another at Princeton after winning 24 games a year removed from the Sweet 16.

Awards or not, the true prize lies ahead this weekend for the Cornell men. Could this be the year they finally make it out of the semifinals and go on a run?