JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Confident, relaxed and definitely on its game.
Cornell lived up to its billing as the best team to come out of the Ivy League in more than a decade, and now the senior-heavy Big Red has a chance for a nice run in the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament.
"Everyone was saying we were Cinderella or it's an upset. Not us," sophomore Chris Wroblewski said Friday after the 12th-seeded Big Red dominated No. 5 seed Temple, 78-65, in a game that wasn't even that close.
Cornell, which has won 16 of 17 games since a five-point road loss at Kansas on Jan. 6, became the first Ivy League team to win an NCAA Tournament game since fifth-seeded Princeton took down No. 12 seed UNLV in 1998.
Down to their last chance to experience success on college basketball's biggest stage, seniors Ryan Wittman, Louis Dale and Jeff Foote led the school to its first win in five NCAA appearances, setting up a matchup against fourth-seeded Wisconsin on Sunday.
Dale scored 21 points and Wittman, the Ivy League player of the year, had 20 for Cornell, which led the nation in three-point shooting this season and has three other elements - strong guard play, experienced leadership and a 7-foot center in Foote - that make it a threat to play beyond the first weekend of the tournament.
Cornell (28-4) made eight of its first 10 shots and wound up shooting 68 percent in the opening half and 56 percent for the game.
Temple (29-6) lost in the first round for the third straight year under coach Fran Dunphy, whose former assistant, Steve Donahue, has led Cornell to three straight Ivy League titles and the winningest season in school history.
Having gone through a non-conference schedule that included games against Kansas, Syracuse, Seton Hall, St. John's and Alabama, Donahue thought the Big Red would be better equipped this year to face a tough, physical opening-round opponent such as Temple, one of the nation's stingiest defensive teams.
Cornell lost by 24 to Stanford in 2008 and 19 to Missouri a year ago. It entered this year's tournament determined to make the most of the last opportunity Wittman, Foote, Dale and fellow senior Jon Jaques have to enjoy the NCAAs.
"This is our last chance to do this," said Foote, who had 16 points and seven rebounds. "It's nice to see all our hard work for four years pay off."