March Madness 2023: Princeton becomes fourth No. 15 seed to move up from Missouri to Sweet 16 with irritation – CBS Sports

Princeton made NCAA tournament history on Saturday by becoming the fourth No. 15 seed ever to reach the Sweet 16 when they defeated No. 7 seed Missouri 78-63 in the second round. Ryan Langborg led with 22 points for Princeton, who are only the fourth Ivy League team to reach the Sweet 16 and the first since Cornell in 2010.

It will be Princeton’s first Sweet 16 appearance of the NCAA tournament’s modern era, and Saturday’s performance only confirmed that the Tigers pose a serious threat in the dwindling field. Princeton led by as much as 21 points in the second half, only allowing Missouri to lead for 32 seconds in the game’s opening salvo.

It is the third straight year that a No. 15 seed has made the Sweet 16, after Saint Peter’s and Oral Roberts did so in 2022 and 2021 respectively. Princeton will play either Baylor (No. 3) or Creighton (No. 6) for a spot in the Elite Eight in Louisville on Friday.

Princeton’s run began Thursday with a 59-55 win over No. 2 Arizona and Saturday’s dominant display against Mizzou proved it was no fluke. The team, coached by former Princeton star Mitch Henderson, took a 33-19 lead late in the first half before Missouri capitalized on a 7-0 run before halftime to gain some momentum. But Missouri never got closer than five points in the second half, and Princeton used a 10-0 run midway through to pull away.

The result marks a poor end to an otherwise excellent season for Missouri under Dennis Gates, first-year coach, who took over a program that ended 12-21 last season and turned it into a final record of 25-10.

Statistical dominance of Princeton

Missouri came out with 17.1 forced turnovers per game, ranking in the top 10 teams in the country in terms of forced turnovers. But even with Missouri putting much of the pressure on the field in the second half, Princeton committed just nine turnovers, below their season average of 12.4.

Mizzou was also averaging 9.4 scored 3 points per game earlier in the day, which is a solid 36.2% mark. But Missouri only mustered a 6 of 22 performance from beyond the arc. Princeton made 12 of 33 3-pointers, including 8 of 18 in the second half.

Nowhere, however, was Princeton’s statistical advantage more evident than on the glass. Princeton won the battle for second chance points 19-2 while overtaking Mizzou by 44-30, which included a 16-8 offensive rebound advantage. Caden Pierce led the rebound load for Princeton with a career-high 16 boards. The 6-foot-6 forward’s move included seven offensive boards,

Jersey Boys came to play

Princeton’s victory is just the latest example of a New Jersey team’s overwhelming success in the NCAA tournament. Fairleigh Dickinson became the second No. 16 in program history to defeat a No. 1 on Friday night as the Knights defeated Purdue.

Just a year ago, Saint Peter’s of New Jersey became the first No. 15 to reach the Elite Eight. The Tigers will now try to follow in their footsteps and it feels doable. There was nothing random or sweet about Princeton beating Arizona or Missouri. The Tigers play their best basketball at the right time, particularly on defense, and will pose a formidable threat in Louisville next week when a South Regional Champion is determined.