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March 19, 2009

NCAA Report: Cornell

Missouri tips Friday afternoon in Boise, ID against the Big Red from Cornell. The winner of that game will meet the winner of Marquette and Utah State on Sunday afternoon. Over the days leading up to the tournament, PowerMizzou.com will give Tiger fans a look at each of the three teams in Missouri's pod. Today, we finish up with a look at Missouri's first opponent, 14th-seeded Cornell.

Record: 21-9

Conference Record: 11-3, 1st in the Ivy League

Ranking: Not Ranked

RPI: 115*

Schedule Strength: 286*

Coach: Steve Donahue, 117-131 in nine years at Cornell

Top Players: Ryan Wittman (18.5 pts, 3.6 rebs, 2.7 assists), Louis Dale, 13.5 pts, 4.3 rebs, 3. assists), Jeff Foote (11.8 pts, 7.1 rebs, 2.3 assists)

Key Stat: Cornell played some tough teams this year. The Big Red tested itself with road games at NCAA tournament teams Siena, Syracuse and Minnesota. But they lost those three games by an average of 45 points. Against other major conference competition, the Big Red lost to St. John's by 11 and Indiana by 15. The Big Red beat only one team (LaSalle) ranked in the RPI's top 160 and only three teams in the top 200.

Why They're Dangerous: Underdogs have a way of coming up big in this tournament. Of those from whom little is expected, there is little to lose. In addition, Cornell has been here before. They were a 14 seed in last year's tournament, losing 77-53 to Stanford. But just being there before should help. Missouri does not have a regular contributor who has played in the NCAA tournament; Cornell doesn't have one who has not.

Why They Could Exit Early: Let's be honest: They're the 14 seed. Since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, the 14 seeds have a total of 15 wins. It happens, but it's not likely.

*RPI and strength of schedule numbers were taken from RealTimeRPI.com.

Coming tomorrow: Game Day


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