Ask anyone who knows anything about college basketball how much rankings—especially in early February—matter, and you'll hear the same thing: Not at all. Rankings mean nothing. The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee doesn't consider either the Associated Press Top 25 or the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll when putting together the 65-team field that competes for a national championship in March.
But try telling that to Cornell University, whose basketball team is ranked for the first time since the 1950–1951 basketball season. Sure, the players don't think anything of it—"It wasn't too much of a big shock ... but we weren't really expecting it," Ryan Wittman, who was interviewed by Paper Trail last March, tells the Cornell Daily Sun—but for an Ivy League school, it's always exciting to be ranked in something other than academics. The last time Cornell's men's hoops team was ranked was Jan. 3, 1951, thanks to a nine-game winning streak.
"It's nice to be recognized, but at the same time, it doesn't move us any closer to our goal of winning the Ivy League championship," Wittman tells the Cornell Daily Sun. "If anything, it makes it tougher."
While the ranking of Ivy League teams has been rare in recent years, it hasn't exactly been out of the question. Princeton climbed as high as No. 8 in the AP Top 25 in 1998. Paper Trail actually saw that Princeton team lose, 63 to 56, to Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament that year.
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