Princeton becomes fourth No. 15 seed to make the Sweet 16

A No. 15 seed is in the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season.

Princeton easily defeated No. 7 Missouri, 78-63, to advance to the Sweet 16 on Saturday. The New Jersey Tigers led almost the entire game, pulling away in the second half after Missouri tried to make it a game.

Princeton is only the fourth No. 15 to make the Sweet 16. St. Peter’s was third in 2022 and became the first No. 15 to make the Elite Eight when it defeated Purdue in the third round of the tournament. Oral Roberts was the second No. 15 to make the Sweet 16 in 2021.

The Ivy League champions were just 4 of 25 from the 3-point line in their landslide victory over No. 2 Arizona on Thursday. That performance was atypical for an NCAA tournament upset. Huge underdogs usually win because they shoot well from behind the bow.

Princeton went back to average on Saturday. The Tigers hit 12 three-pointers and broke up the Missouri zone in the second half. Blake Peters came off the bench and hit five 3-pointers, while Ryan Langborg had 22 points to lead all scorers.

Missouri finished fourth in the SEC during the regular season and was at its best when it scored more than 65 points. Less than 65 points usually meant a loss. As a team, Mizzou shot less than 40% from the field and only 30% from deep.

Mizzou was also the worst rebounding team in the SEC and was dominated on the board by Princeton. Mizzou bounced back with 16 as Princeton had a bunch of second chances on the offensive glass.

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

Biggest win by a No. 15 in round two

Florida Gulf Coast became the first No. 15 to make 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 was also the largest of any No. 15 seed in the second round at 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 moves Princeton into the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1965. The Tigers made the Final Four that season after winning three games to win their region before losing to Michigan.

This Princeton team lost four games in the regular season of the Ivy League, but was one of the best recovering teams in the country. The Tigers ranked fourth in the nation in defensive rebounding and eleventh in overall rebounding and that strength was one of the biggest differences on the field, even though Princeton is not a significant contributor over six feet.

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

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