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Matt Norlander

Big Red exceeds big expectations on way to Sweet 16

The Dagger

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of Davidson, anyone?

Similar shade of red uniforms.

Similar breed of deadly shooters.

Similar passing scheme and quirky offense.

Similar dagger-giver. (Ryan Wittman is this year's Stephen Curry.)

Cornell is no doubt a team with its own identity, but it was hard to ignore the similarities between 2008's Cinderella team and one of the three clubs taking on that role in 2010 (Saint Mary's and Northern Iowa being the other two).

But then again, when Davidson defeated the Badgers in the regional semifinals in 2008 it didn't out-rebounded them by 12 as the Big Red did Sunday.

Also, Cornell had another hot shooting day hitting 61 percent against one of the most stubborn defenses in college basketball.

"I couldn't even imagine that we could play that well in the stretches that we did," Cornell coach Steve Donahue said.

There are so many embraceable storylines to consider, but Cornell's the one that's been running the longest. This is a team that nearly defeated Kansas and one I got some hate mail over for calling overrated a week ago.

Cornell is going to get plenty of play this week, and rightly so. It's going to be playing against Kentucky in the East regional semifinals. Those semifinals will be played at the Carrier Dome, located in Syracuse — just over an hour away from the Cornell campus.

"We've got eight seniors on this team, and we want to take this ride as long as we can because after this it's just nothing but babies and memories, so we'll just keep going," Louis Dale said.

So can the ride keep going? The Big Red's offense was, arguably, better than any other team's in the first four days. It was a clinic. Something that would make purists cry because it was so effective. For all the stats you want to throw at me, you can't deny, when shots are falling frequently, you're a very, very hard team to beat.

More on this team later in the week from The Dagger, but it's safe to say it lived up to expectations. Many had this team beating Temple, but Wisconsin? Not nearly as much.

Now a different kind of foe, Kentucky, will present a new challenge.

But why aren't we talking about how Kentucky could and should be afraid of Cornell? We've got a collision coming between two teams whose confidence levels have to be at a higher level than anyone else in the field.

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