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

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

Princeton easily defeated No. 7 Missouri 78–63 on Saturday to advance to the Sweet 16. The Tigers from New Jersey led almost the entire game and trailed in the second half after Missouri tried to make it a contest.

Princeton is just the fourth No. 15 seed to make the Sweet 16. St. Peter’s was third in 2022 and became the first No. 15 seed to make the Elite Eight after defeating 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 upset win over No. 2 Arizona on Thursday. That performance was upset by the NCAA tournament. Underdogs usually win largely because they shoot well from behind the arc.

Princeton went back to average on Saturday. The Tigers hit 12 3-pointers and took apart Missouri’s field goal in the second half. Blake Peters came off the bench to 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 scoring more than 65 points. A score below 65 usually means a loss. Mizzou as a team shot less than 40% from the field and just 30% from deep.

Mizzou was also the worst rebounding team in the SEC and Princeton dominated on the board. Mizzou was out-rebounded by 16 as Princeton got a ton of second chances on the offensive glass.

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

Biggest win by No. 15 in second round

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 a three-year streak.

Princeton’s margin of victory was also the largest of any No. 15 seed in the second round by five points. In 2013, FGCU defeated San Diego State 10, Oral Roberts defeated Florida 3 and St. Peters defeated Murray State 10.

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

This Princeton team had lost four games in the Ivy League regular season, but was one of the best rebounding teams in the country. The Tigers were ranked fourth in the country in defensive rebounding and 11th in overall rebounding, and this strength was one of the biggest differences on the court, though Princeton’s 6-foot-8 is not a significant contributor.

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



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