Princeton becomes the fourth no. 15 seed for the Sweet 16

Well. The 15 seed is in the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season.

Princeton easily beat the no. 7 Missouri, 78-63, to advance to the Sweet 16 on Saturday. The New Jersey Tigers led for nearly the entire game and pulled away in the second half after Missouri tried to make it a contest.

Princeton is just the fourth seed out of 15 to reach the Sweet 16. St. Peter’s was third in 2022 and became the first 15th seed to reach the Elite Eight when it beat Purdue in the third round of the tournament. Oral Roberts was the second No. 15 to reach the Sweet 16 in 2021.

The Ivy League champion was just 4-for-25 from the 3-point line in its upset win over No. 2 Arizona on Thursday. That performance was uncharacteristic of an NCAA Tournament upset. Massive underdogs usually win because they shoot well from beyond the arc.

Princeton returned to the mean on Saturday. The Tigers hit 12 3-pointers to isolate Missouri in the second half. Blake Peters came off the bench to hit five 3-pointers, while Ryan Langborg’s 22 points led all scorers.

Missouri ranked fourth in the SEC during the regular season and was at its best when scoring over 65 points. Below 65 points usually meant a loss. Mizzou shot less than 40% from the field as a team and just 30% from deep.

Mizzou was also the worst rebounding team in the SEC, and Princeton dominated the boards. Mizzou trailed by 16 as Princeton got plenty of second-chance opportunities on the offensive glass.

Jacob O’Connell and his Princeton Tigers are on their way to the Sweet 16 after defeating Missouri on March 18, 2023 in Sacramento, California. (Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The biggest win with the number 15 in the second round

Florida Gulf Coast became the first No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 when it won two games in the 2013 NCAA Tournament and was joined eight years later by Oral Roberts before the Golden Eagles began this three-year streak.

Princeton’s margin of victory in the second round was the largest of all 15th by five points. FGCU beat San Diego State by 10 in 2013, Oral Roberts beat Florida by three and St. Peter’s beat Murray State by 10 a season ago.

The win means Princeton is in the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1965. The Tigers reached the Final Four that season, winning three games to win their region before losing to Michigan.

This Princeton team lost four games in the Ivy League regular season, but was one of the best rebounding teams in the country. The Tigers ranked fourth in the nation in defensive rebounding and 11th in overall rebounding, a strength that was one of the biggest differences on the court, even though Princeton doesn’t have a significant contributor over 6 feet.

Missouri, meanwhile, finishes the season with a 25-10 record after a strong first season under coach Dennis Gates. The Tigers were ranked as one of the worst teams in the SEC, but had six Quad 1 wins, according to the NCAA’s NET rankings.

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