Cornell's perfect Ivy League record and Siena's perfect Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference mark both took damaging hits Friday night. The Big Red fell to 20-4 and 6-1 in Ivy play in a shocking 79-64 loss at Penn to a 4-15 Quakers team, while the Saints suffered a more respectable, if equally unexpected, 87-74 loss at Niagara.
Cornell remains a strong favorite to win the Ivy League title and an NCAA bid, and it would be a huge upset if Siena (21-5, 14-1) doesn't win the MAAC tournament an NCAA berth. But upsets happen, and the two last night might have killed the chance for an at-large berth by either Cornell or Siena should they fall short of earning the automatic NCAA bid for each league.
Their losses were similar. Cornell let Penn shoot 56.3 percent from the field, and the Quakers, who had 18 assists, took control with a 15-0 run at the start of the second half for a 47-31 lead that never dropped below five points. Niagara shot 54.1 percent and had 22 assists and pulled away with a 17-1 run in the second half for a 70-53 lead.
Without a doubt, both teams need to bounce back immediately. Cornell faces much tougher opposition tonight at Princeton (14-5, 5-0), which is in first place in the Ivy League for the moment. The Saints are at Canisius (12-14, 7-8) on Sunday. Their next game is a crucial ESPN Bracketbuster matchup a week from today at Butler (22-4, 15-0 Horizon League before its game at Cleveland State today). If the Saints want to have any chance at an at-large NCAA bid, they probably need to defeat Butler.