As I lead in today's SN column, I am as excited about Cornell-Kentucky tonight as I have been about a college basketball game not involving personal rooting interest in years. Probably going back to George Mason-UConn in '06.
I've been thinking a lot about that Mason team -- it's the gold standard for Cinderellas and it is the bar by which we will measure Cornell.
Making the Sweet 16 is fun -- even making the Elite Eight is impressive. But immortality comes with the Final Four, and Cornell isn't even close yet.
Getting through Kentucky will resemble George Mason vs. Florida more than it will GMU-UConn -- if only because Kentucky is the closest thing I have seen in college hoops to Florida's ridiculous 3-NBA-center depth in the post.
Cousins, Patterson and Orton remind me of Noah, Horford and Richard -- and as good as Florida's guards (Green, Humphrey, Brewer) played in '06, there are plenty of good undersized PGs or sweet-shooting 2s or athletic 3s in college hoops. Few teams have NBA size -- and even fewer have THREE post players who are NBA-quality.
Now, there are a few mitigating factors: I love that Cornell has experience shooting in the Carrier Dome and Kentucky has none -- if UK has a potential scare area, it's 3-point shooting, which has been fine the past two games, but just think back to that loss to Tennessee: Missed 3s.
If Kentucky pounds the ball down low (and hyper-charges the pace behind Wall and Bledsoe), they will win -- probably handily (by 10 or more points).
If they try to win by shooting 3s... if they let Cornell dictate the pace... if UK's big men get into foul trouble... well, then Cornell can win.
They certainly have just as good of a shot -- if not better -- as George Mason did against regional 1-seed UConn back in 2006.
More you'll find in today's column:
*What will cause more problems: Syracuse's Onuaku out with an injury vs. Butler or WVU's Bryant out with injury vs. Washington. The latter, definitely.
*It's not surprising that Urban Meyer is getting vilified by the sports-media industry he threatened yesterday. I am less perturbed by what he did than others.
*MLS! (No, really!)
*Baseball change is... well, minimal!
*Rex Ryan! Arnold Palmer! Name of the Year!
See the complete column here. More later.