Many have used Cornell's close loss at Kansas to argue that the Big Red can hang with Kentucky on Thursday. However, they kept it close in that game much differently than they've steamrolled through the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. (Remember, higher offensive NEM values and lower defensive NEM values are better.)

Loss @ Kansas11.5-21.4
Win vs. Temple43.20.9
Win vs. Wisconsin54.5-1.7

Cornell held Kansas (which finished the season ranked #1 in adjusted offensive efficiency) to 44 eFG% and grabbed 75% of the available defensive rebounds en route to posting a -21.4 NEM. The Big Red shot well (52 eFG%) but turned the ball over too much (23% of their possessions) and only pulled down 22% of their own missed shots.

Contrast that to their first two tourney games this year, in which Cornell shot a ridiculous 67 eFG% and grabbed nearly 40% of the available offensive rebounds. On the defensive end, they played like an average Division 1 team. (0 NEM by definition is D-1 average.) Regardless of how well they shoot against Kentucky, they can't play that way defensively and expect to win.

Net Efficiency Margin (5-game running average)

Net Efficiency Margin offense (blue)/defense (red) splits (5-game running average)