Apparently when you take just five free throws all game, it’s the final three that are sometimes what matters.
A 65% free-throw shooter gave the No. 15 seed Princeton Tigers the exact bump they needed to pull ahead of the No. 2 Arizona Wildcats in the opening round of the NCAA men’s tournament Thursday in Sacramento, California.
It capped off a 9-0 run, which propelled what could be this year’s next Cinderella team to yet another shocking Day 1 win, as Princeton won 59-55. Three made freebies, with a pair of missed heaves from distance by Arizona, was all the Tigers needed to seal the upset and hold a high-scoring Wildcats team to a mere 55 points — a new season low for Tommy Lloyd’s squad.
The clutch freebies sealed it after this running bank gave Princeton its final lead.
OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH.pic.twitter.com/dRK0N0j5C9— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) March 16, 2023
In the most ironic fashion befitting of Arizona, the upset comes nearly 30 years to the day that Arizona, a two seed at the time, lost to No. 15 Santa Clara in Salt Lake City way back when Steve Nash suited up for the Broncos.
Almost 30 years ago to the day, 15th-seeded Santa Clara toppled No. 2 Arizona on the opening Thursday of the NCAAs in Salt Lake City.— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) March 16, 2023
A dude named Steve played the point for the Broncos.
No. 15 Princeton down three at the under-4. We'll see ...
Here’s some things to know about this epic upset:
- The upsets that keep on giving: This Princeton upset marks a whopping third year in a row that a 15 seed has beaten a 2 seed. That has never happened three tournaments in a row. Ever. Nada. Zilch. It is just the 11th time it has ever happened and, to make it all the more painful if you are a member of the Arizona faithful, Arizona is the only team to lose to a 15 seed TWICE. Shouts to Matt Norlander for these factoids. (Oral Roberts over Ohio State in 2021, and Saint Peter’s over Kentucky in 2022 were the other two 15-over-2 upsets the past few seasons.)
- No 3-ball for the Cats: The Tigers of course held a usually stout offense to a pedestrian 55 points, but did so all while shrinking the floor to keep a team that is top 20 in the country from distance to a just flat bad 3 of 16 from long range. To make matters worst for the Wildcats, Arizona was held scoreless the last 4:45 of the game.
- For Pete: This also comes as the Princeton Tigers mourned the loss of legendary coach Pete Carril. Carril led the program to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances and now, the program has won in a monumental upset, reminiscent of Carril’s historic upset over UCLA in 1996.
- 0.12%: Did you pick Princeton, let alone Furman over Virginia? Because apparently, after the latest run of upsets has busted brackets across the country.
We await the rest of this Cinderella run out of the Ivy League.