Four Corners:

March 23, 2010

Cornell up to challenge
Shannon Ryan

Chicago Tribune

In 1979, an Ivy League team made it to the Sweet 16 - and kept going to the Final Four. Cornell has several factors working in its favor that show it can imitate that Penn team.

Cornell, a No. 12 seed, has already taken out fifth-seeded Temple by 13 points and fourth-seeded Wisconsin by 18 points. Next on the list is a giant challenge in top-seeded Kentucky.

Good thing the Big Red have giants.

The front line has three players at least 6-7, including 7-footer Jeff Foote, to help contend with Kentucky's dominant post players. Cornell can shoot outside, having entered the tournament leading the nation with 43.4 percent 3-point shooting.

Ninth-seeded Northern Iowa, fresh off an upset of top-seeded Kansas, has a solid chance to keep rolling against fifth-seeded Michigan State, which will be playing without injured point guard Kalin Lucas.

All of that adds up to giant upsets.

sryan@tribune.com

Panthers have best shot
Kevin Van Valkenburg

Baltimore Sun

At some point, we need to acknowledge that there is no such thing anymore as a mid-major. Have you seen Northern Iowa in this tournament? I'm starting to wonder if the Panthers could have won the Pac-10, which was awful this year, even with Washington's appearance in the Sweet 16.

Cornell is a cute story, but the fairy tale is going to end against Kentucky. Northern Iowa, on the other hand, has a legitimate shot at going to the Final Four.

Michigan State can rebound as well as anyone, but the Spartans can't handle the ball and aren't going to shoot lights-out like they did against Maryland. Ali Farokhmanesh has been one of the tournament's most exciting players, and the Panthers aren't afraid of anything. The Spartans and Buckeyes should be afraid.

Kvanvalkenburg2@tribune.com

Izzo can't beat injuries
Andrea Adelson

Orlando Sentinel

Watch out, Elite Eight - here come those lovable Northern Iowa Panthers. Beating No. 1 overall seed Kansas was just the beginning. Next up is a favorable matchup against banged-up Michigan State on Friday in the Sweet 16.

Spartans coach Tom Izzo says his squad is more like a "MASH" unit than a basketball team. Team leader Kalin Lucas is done with an Achilles' tendon injury. Guard Chris Allen's foot injury limited him to four minutes in the win over Maryland. Raymar Morgan lost part of his tooth in the same game, while Delvon Roe is battling a knee injury.

Tom Izzo is an incredible NCAA tournament coach, but even he is going to have a hard time winning - especially against a team that is feeling supremely confident. Ali Farokhmanesh is fearless. The Panthers epitomize how to play like a team and win like a team. Expect to see them in the next round.

aadelson@tribune.com

Tradition will top 'dogs
David Teel

Newport News

Daily Press

You're pining for a Final Four of Northern Iowa, Butler, Cornell and Saint Mary's. You want to see a H-O-R-S-E contest among Ali Farokhmanesh, Shelvin Mack, Louis Dale and Mickey McConnell. Couldn't get any better for those with a soft spot for the little guy. Alas, the hunch is this doesn't happen, that tradition and talent will prevail at all four of this weekend's regionals, with familiar names such as Duke, Syracuse, Ohio State and Kentucky heading to the Final Four. But the most likely "underdog" to emerge is Northern Iowa. Michigan State is compromised by Kalin Lucas' Achilles' injury, and neither Ohio State nor Tennessee in the other half of the bracket is imposing. Besides, Northern Iowa's got game. Ask Kansas.

dteel@tribune.com

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