27 March 2010

March Madness

The big story of the early rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament this year was Cornell. They beat two higher-ranked teams to get into the "Sweet Sixteen" round, the first time in 30 years an Ivy League team had done so.

After all, Ivy League teams are composed of genuine "student athletes" in the old sense. There are no athletic scholarships.

The clock struck 12 for Cornell this Thursday, though, when Kentucky beat them soundly 62 to 45. What was left for Cornell was a triumphant return to the home campus. What was ahead of Kentucky was the Elite Eight round, where they will be matched against West Virginia tonight.

I have to wonder: will the Cornell students watch that game? And, if so, for whom do they root? Will they be cheering for the downfall of those who caused their own? Or will they hope that Kentucky wins, and indeed that Kentucky goes on to win the whole tournament? There is after all something neat about being able to say "we only lost to the team to whom everybody else lost -- the team that went on to become the national champion."

And of course there is the classic post-defeat cheer by Ivy Leaguers. "That's all right. That's okay. You'll work for us, anyway."

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