ANAHEIM — If today's matchup between Cornell and Stanford were decided in the classroom, the third-seeded Cardinal might be in trouble.
"I'm not going to lie, it's probably going to be them," Stanford's Taj Finger said Wednesday, giving the academic nod to the Big Red. "We have a ton of smart guys on the team, but I think we're a little bit more geared to basketball."
Brawn instead of book smarts likely will decide the first-round South Regional game between two schools with players who truly define the student-athlete moniker.
"I guess it's just another feather in both our hats and Cornell's that we're able to be successful in basketball and be able to go to such successful academic schools," Stanford guard Mitch Johnson said.
No basket weaving classes in Palo Alto or Ithaca. Players on both teams major in subjects such as human biology, policy analysis and management, applied economics and management, and engineering.
Brook Lopez, one of Stanford's 7-foot twin towers, wants to major in creative writing.
"I want to go into investment banking," said Cornell guard Louis Dale, Ivy League player of the year. "Policy analysis and management is sort of like a business major with a little side of policy."
As a private Ivy League school, Cornell doesn't offer athletic scholarships to reduce tuition that soon will top $60,000 a year.
Athletes are considered students first and are awarded financial aid based on economic need. Stanford is private, too, but gives athletic scholarships to reduce costs of more than $45,000 a year.
Some of Cornell's players laughed about playing in the so-called "Battle of the Nerds."
"I've heard that," guard Adam Gore said. "We're not really focused on how hard Stanford's classes are or how they're doing. We're focusing on the athletic side of it. They're a very good team. It just so happens to be they're a pretty good institution as well."
The schools located on opposite sides of the country played three of the same opponents this season — Harvard, Siena and Yale.
Stanford routed Harvard 111-56, lost at Siena and beat Yale by 11. Cornell went 5-0 against those three teams.
The Cardinal (26-7) has lost three of its last five and is seeking its first NCAA Tournament victory since 2004. It is coming off the rugged Pac-10 Tournament, and a loss to top-seeded UCLA in the title game.
"We're probably more excited to be out of an extremely tough Pac-10 season and the tournament. We're looking forward to playing somebody else," coach Trent Johnson said.
The Ivy League is the only conference that doesn't play a postseason tourney, so the 14th-seeded Big Red (22-5) has been idle since March 8.
Cornell earned its first NCAA bid in 20 years by going undefeated in the league. The Big Red comes in on a 16-game winning streak, second in the nation only to Davidson's 22 consecutive wins.
But Cornell never has won a first-round game in three previous tries.