Cornell-Princeton: Big Red Look To Push Away as They Face Major Test

Sam BlumCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2010

DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 06:  Head coach Steve Donahue of the Cornell Big Red yells to his defense against the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 6, 2008 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This weekend will be the last home weekend for the Big Red seniors. They hope, however, that there is still a lot more excitement to come. Cornell can clinch an outright berth to the NCAA tournament this weekend by sweeping Princeton and Penn, getting a Columbia win over Princeton on Saturday, and a Harvard loss in one of their two home games to Brown or Yale.

Cornell will graduate eight seniors on Saturday versus Penn, but the real excitement will come on Friday versus Princeton. Princeton is currently one game behind Cornell in the loss column, and a Princeton win would put them within one half of a game of first place. However, Princeton has one more additional game than Cornell and can make up that half game difference with a win there.

Ultimately, a Cornell win all but gives the Big Red another Ivy League Championship.

With Cornell seniors Jeff Foote and Ryan Wittman both being invited to an NBA draft camp in Portsmouth, Virginia, there should be a buzz around Newman Arena, knowing that this might the last game in which they see their stars before they're on the biggest stage—the NBA. In addition, Jeremy Lin of Harvard was also invited.   

A factor in this weekend's Ivy League games might be something totally out of any team's control. The weather for the northeast this weekend is expecting snow, snow, and more snow. More than a foot will drop on Cornell's home, Ithaca, New York, with just a little less expected for Columbia's home in New York City. Travel for Penn and Princeton might be hard.

Princeton will have a matchup with a struggling Columbia team on the Lions' senior night on Saturday, before returning home for their last three games against Dartmouth, Harvard, and Penn. If they win out, they will clinch at least a play-in game with possibly Cornell, or a very unlikely three-way tie with Harvard included. They also have a chance to clinch a berth to the tournament.

Cornell has an easier path if they win their next three games.

Harvard will basically need to win out, and hope for at least two Cornell losses and one Princeton loss.

As nice as it would be for the king to be dethroned, I predict a final of 86-66 in favor of Cornell. 

For now, all anyone can do is speculate. The real action starts Friday at 7:00 PM (eastern), assuming the weather allows it.