(Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor)

Sean Hansen had 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists in Cornell's win against Columbia.

March 10, 2023

PREVIEW: Men’s Basketball Gets Ready to Face Yale in Ivy Madness Tournament

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With the regular season in the books, Cornell (17-10, 7-7 Ivy) will compete in the 2023 Ivy Madness tournament. As the No. 4 seed, the Red will take on top-seeded Yale (20-7, 10-4 Ivy) on Saturday, March 4 at 11 a.m. in Jadwin Gymnasium in Princeton, New Jersey. This game will be streamed on ESPNU.

Cornell had a very impressive start to the season. During its non-conference portion of its schedule, the team went 10-3. All of these losses came against ACC schools, with the games against Boston College and Miami each being decided by two points. Some notable victories came against Delaware and Patriot League champion Colgate.

The Red took this momentum into the start of its Ivy schedule, starting the conference schedule with a 5-2 record. In its last seven games, Cornell struggled to close out and finished with a 7-7 record.

“We’re happy to be here to continue the season,” said head coach Brian Earl. “We wished we would have finished out our season on a stronger note, but we managed to be resilient and win our last game.”

During the regular season, the Red split its two games against the Bulldogs, with both teams winning on their home courts. 

“The first game was a better outcome for us — when the pace is high, we tend to play better,” Earl said. “We were down a bunch in that game and managed to come back with a combination of defense and making shots.”

As Cornell prepares to face Yale for the third time, senior guard Greg Dolan also emphasized pace of play as a key factor for success. 

“We really need to just play as fast as we can,” Dolan said. “It fits our guys and the way we like to play.” 

Cornell’s fast paced play style has been a defining characteristic for the team throughout the season. With many quick possessions, the Red leads the Ivy League with 82.5 points per game. This style also gives opportunities for the opposing team to put up points — Cornell gives up 75.9 points per game, which is the most in the Ivy League.

Another big part of the team’s identity is the high number of substitutions throughout the game. Dolan and sophomore guard Nazir WIlliams are the only players on the team that average over 22 minutes per game. With the starters constantly rotating in and out, the Red’s bench players have played a big role this season. Cornell averages 30.8 bench points per game, which leads the Ivy League and ranks fifth in the nation.

“One of the special things about this group is it really doesn’t matter who gets the credit,” Dolan said.

The Red’s chances to take down the Bulldogs will hinge on the success of its three-point shooting. Cornell leads the nation in three-point attempts with 30.4 per game. However, the team has struggled from behind the arc in recent games. In its first six Ivy games, the Red made a stellar 39.8 percent of its three-pointers. In its last eight games, the team made just 29.6 percent of its attempts.

While Cornell thrived early in the season and struggled late, Yale had the opposite season trajectory. After losing three of its first four Ivy contests, the Bulldogs finished the season winning nine of its last 10 games.

It remains to be seen how injuries will affect both teams for the Ivy semifinal. Sophomore forward Guy Ragland Jr. and junior guard Max Watson both sat out Cornell’s final game of the season due to undisclosed injuries. Yale’s Matt Knowling has missed his last three games with an ankle injury.

The winner of this game will face either Penn or Princeton in the Ivy League Championship on Sunday, March 12 at 12 p.m., which can be viewed on ESPN2.