Cornell Wallops Wisconsin, Sets Up Big Red-Big Blue Showdown in Sweet Sixteen

It was surprising when Cornell shot down Temple's Owls. It's a little stunning that the Big Red did the same to Wisconsin's Badgers today.

So what would the adjective be if the Ivy League's big game hunters do the same to Kentucky?

It can't be shocking, even though that will make narrative sense to many. Cornell's had arguably the best offense in this tournament so far -- the Big Red are 60-of-102 from the field -- and they've done it against teams that were ranked sixth and eighth in Ken Pomeroy's defensive efficiency.

Kentucky's ranked ninth, but the 'Cats have a totally different breed of athlete than Temple and Wisconsin. Cornell has seen that level of athleticism this season, but road losses to Syracuse and Kansas proved that great teams can beat the Big Red both by grinding it out (Kansas) and running by them (Syracuse).

Then again: would you believe that Cornell isn't really shooting all that well from three? 

Cornell's 44.7% mark from beyond the arc in the NCAA Tournament is only a little bit better than their 43.7% clip this season. Should Ryan Wittman, Louis Dale, and Chris Wroblewski really get hot from distance, the Big Red may put Big Blue in big trouble.

Of course, Cornell could go cold, too, and Kentucky could step on this Cinderella's toes with the speed and length John Wall and Eric Bledsoe provide.

Either way, this is going to be the marquee matchup of the Sweet Sixteen. 

The ridiculously talented, freshman-heavy now assumed to be the national championship front-runner against the sweet-shooting senior-laden mid-major squad is tantalizing enough for its on-the-floor contrasts. But the contrasting academic reputations, athletic traditions, and budget sizes of Kentucky and Cornell are in play, too. And the inevitable cringe-worthy stretch to see the mostly-white Big Red against the mostly-black Wildcats through the prism of race looms.

Basically, this looks like a super-sized Sweet Sixteen showdown that would put every celebutante on MTV to shame. Let's hope that it lives up to what will be a hurricane of hype.

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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