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Princeton’s Rare Ivy League Appearance in Sweet 16 is Best Story of March Madness

Publish Date: 03/22/2023
Fact checked by: Allan Howe

Princeton basketball team

March Madness is the second-most popular sporting event in the United States for sports betting. The multi-week tournament with its win-or-go-home format is ideal for backing underdogs and winning thrilling bets with buzzer beaters.

For hoops fans, the first weekend of the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament is like Christmas in March. Last weekend didn’t disappoint: several great games and lower-seed wins highlighted March Madness.

Here are my picks for the best storylines coming out of March Madness so far.

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New Hoops Blood in the Sweet 16

What are the chances the tournament winner will be a school that’s never won the NCAA title? Well, chances may be good.

Twelve of the sixteen teams in the Sweet 16 have never won the NCAA Tournament. That’s right, we have a lot of uncrowned schools as we enter the second week of March Madness.

Only these Sweet 16 teams have ever cut down the nets as national champions: Arkansas, Connecticut, Michigan State, and UCLA. Two of those teams will face each other when the Arkansas Razorbacks and UConn Huskies play Thursday.

Five teams are in the tournament that were seeded No. 6 or higher. That’s tied for the most ever in the Sweet 16. We are guaranteed to have at least one No. 6 or higher in the Elite Eight.

Why all the parity in March Madness? MSU head coach Tom Izzo sees it as a fact of the current atmosphere in college basketball.

“I think you can throw out the seeds once you get into the tournament,” Izzo said in an interview with Fox Sports earlier this week. “The teams are better and deeper than ever [all across] the country.”

First-time champions have been a bit of a theme in recent years: in 2021 (Baylor) and 2019 (Virginia) schools won titles for the first time.

Princeton Represents Ivy League With Unlikely Tournament Run

The Princeton Tigers are not a household name in college hoops. No one watches highlight reels of Princeton basketball games. That’s because Princeton’s street cred is counted in IQ not slam dunks. If you want to get into Princeton, you need an SAT score approaching 1500. And the school doesn’t give out athletic scholarships.

That’s why it’s astounding that the Tigers upset No. 2 Arizona and No. 7 Missouri last weekend. Their appearance in the Sweet 16 is making history: Princeton is the first Ivy League school to make it to the Sweet 16 since Cornell in 2010. Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, those are the only two Ivy League schools to make it that far.

Princeton is just the fourth No. 15 seed to win their way into the Sweet 16. The others? Florida Gulf Coast (2013), Oral Roberts (2021), and Saint Peter's (2022).

Eggheads out there unite! The Princeton Tigers represent the kids in high school who the basketball players cheated off of. They represent the nerds who got their lunch money stolen. They represent all of you out there who would rather read a book on a Saturday night than go to a party. Will they beat Creighton in the Sweet 16? That depends on whether they can contain the tallest player on the court…

Best Individual Performance of March Madness Round One

When you’re 7-foot-1, it’s not difficult to get noticed. Even though he’s a bit gangly and gets compared to a baby giraffe at times, Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner snuck up on North Carolina State in round one last Friday.

Kalkbrenner shot 11-for-14 with a three-pointer, for a career-high 31 points for Creighton in their 72-63 win. With his nearly flawless performance, Kalkbrenner helped the Bluejays to their victory over the No. 11 Wildcats, where they outscored NC State by eight after the break.

In their Sweet 16 game against Princeton, Creighton is favored -500 on the moneyline and is giving away 10 points on the point spread, according to DraftKings. That means you’ll need to wager $500 just to win $100 on the Bluejays to beat the No. 15 Tigers. Creighton has never won three games in a tournament, and never been to the Elite Eight.

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