Penn-Cornell Preview: Quakers Welcome Big Red to Palestra

John SmithContributor IIIFebruary 16, 2012

Cornell's Shonn Miller averages 9 PPG and 7 RPG as a Freshman off the bench.
Cornell's Shonn Miller averages 9 PPG and 7 RPG as a Freshman off the bench.

Who: (10-12, 5-3 Ivy) Cornell Big Red @ (13-11, 5-2 Ivy) Pennsylvania Quakers

What: Ivy League Basketball

When: Friday, February 17th @ 7:00pm

Where: The Palestra, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Penn and Cornell are spinning in totally different directions. The Quakers have split their last two weekends, with losses to No. 1 Harvard and No. 2 Yale.

The Big Red are moving up the Ivy League standings with a three-game winning streak entering Friday night's matchup against Penn. Cornell defeated 0-8 Dartmouth before shocking Yale 85-84 at home on February 10th.

It's Round 2 for the Red, as the Quakers already defeated Cornell on the road early in the Ivy League season.


On The Line:

First off, both teams have the ability to win the Ivy League title. Harvard, in losing to Princeton on the 11th, showed that they are beatable. Yale, with losses to Cornell and Harvard, hasn't proven to be consistent. They have only won two league contests by double digits (62-52 vs. Dartmouth, 73-60 @ Brown). With five wins in the Ivy, more is on the line than most fans think.

For Penn, they had trouble rebounding from their devastating loss to Harvard on Friday with a three-point victory against Dartmouth. Tyler Bernardini still is struggling, and there is no rhythm for the Penn defense.

That being said, they play in the friendly confines of the Palestra. With a win over Cornell, the Quakers would improve to 6-2 before hosting Columbia on Saturday. Yale faces Dartmouth and Harvard, so with a weekend sweep the Quakers could end up in second place.

The Big Red have a tougher time moving up the standings, but they have confidence and momentum. They go on the road to Penn and Princeton this weekend, two teams that are not pushovers.

Penn wants to move into second, and the Tigers are rolling after their upset victory over nationally-ranked Harvard a week ago. Senior Guard Drew Ferry will try to keep Cornell in check and complete the weekend sweep.


Key Matchup:

Drew Ferry (Cornell) vs. Tyler Bernardini (Penn)

Friday night's key matchup is two of the players on the court. Both are seniors, and they have already played each other seven times in their outstanding careers.

Ferry, the 6'4" guard from Wisconsin, plays smart. He averages only one foul a game while averaging 33 minutes. He has to potential to play big, grab rebounds and even be a shot blocker. Watch for Ferry to control the Cornell offense and even contribute to the Big Red's respected defense.

Usually, Zack Rosen matches up with the best guard on the opposing squad. However, Ferry is four inches taller than Rosen. The 6'6" Tyler Bernardini will control the Cornell guard better on the defensive side of the ball. Bernardini has been in a recent shooting slump, but his defense has been rock solid all season.

Look for both guards to play stellar defense. The guard who plays the best on offense may decide who wins this Ivy League Contest.


Honorable Mention Matchup:

Chris Wroblewski (Cornell) vs. Zack Rosen (Penn)

The height advantage is much better for Penn Coach Jerome Allen, as both guards are listed as 6'0". Rosen plays tight defense, so look for Wroblewski to have trouble driving to the basket.


The Verdict:

Penn Quakers 62, Cornell Big Red 54

It's hard to argue against a home team in college basketball. Add in that Penn already beat Cornell on the road, and there is no argument. Still, Cornell is on a roll. The Big Red will go toe-to-toe with Rosen and Bernardini, but Penn's set of senior guards will out muster Cornell's.

I like Miles Cartwright to have a big game, as he may be overlooked. My under-the-radar player for Cornell is freshman Shonn Miller, as he scored 19 points against Penn the first time around. He'll be matched up with true freshman Henry Brooks.


Game Notes:

  • Penn defeated Cornell 64-52 in Ithaca, New York on January 14th. Zack Rosen and Tyler Bernardini scored 18 points apiece, while Cornell's freshman forward Shonn Miller had a career-high 19 points.
  • Teddy Bailey will be there for full coverage.