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Princeton Tigers in historic company as fourth 15-seed to reach Sweet 16

FGCU, Oral Roberts, Saint Peter’s... and now Princeton

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Princeton vs Missouri
Princeton have won six straight games - the final two of the regular season, two in the Ivy League Tournament and two in the NCAA Tournament.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

With Princeton’s back-to-back wins over No. 2 Arizona and No. 7 Missouri at the NCAA Tournament, the 15 seeded Tigers have danced their way into the Sweet 16.

In historic fashion, the Tigers are the second 15 seed in the last two years to advance into the Sweet 16 behind the 2021-22 Saint Peter’s Peacocks, another small program from the state of New Jersey.

But the Tigers and the Peacocks aren’t the only 15th-seeded teams to dance as far as the Sweet 16, so here are the program’s that blazed the path before Princeton’s historic run.

Florida Gulf Coast (2012-13)

The team that earned this program the nickname “Dunk City,” the 2012-13 Eagles finished the season with a 26-11 record and won the Atlantic Sun Tournament to book a 15-seed at the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

In an opening round upset, the Eagles knocked off No. 2 Georgetown 78-68 behind 24 points from Sherwood Brown, 23 points from Bernard Thompson and a double-double contribution from Brett Comer.

The Eagles followed this up with an 81-71 win against No. 7 San Diego State in which Thompson managed another 23 points, and Brown had 17 points. Comer added a second double-double.

Florida Gulf Coast continued to dazzle with its high flying offense into the Sweet 16, eventually falling to No. 3 Florida 62-50 but leaving a mark as the first 15 seed to advance that far.

Oral Roberts (2020-21)

After finishing the season 18-11, the Golden Eagles won out at the 2021 Summit League tournament by defeating top-seed South Dakota State and No. 3 North Dakota State in the Championship to secure the conference’s automatic bid.

Led by star guard Max Abmas and current Texas Tech forward Kevin Obanor, the 15th-seeded Golden Eagles took on No. 2 Ohio State and came out with a 75-72 win in overtime at the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Just a few days later, Oral Roberts put together another historic performance to take down No. 7 Florida 81-78 with a 28 point, 11 rebound double-double from Obanor and 26 points from Abmas.

Dancing their way into the Sweet 16, Paul Mills and Co. finally fell to No. 3 Arkansas but not without a fight as the Golden Eagles lost on a last minute bucket from the Razorbacks for a 72-70 defeat.

Saint Peter’s Peacocks (2021-22)

Considered one of the most magical team’s to ever strut into March Madness, the Peacocks arrived at the NCAA Tournament having finished second in the MAAC. However, behind the play of KC Ndefo, Daryl Banks III, and more, Saint Peter’s took down Fairfield, Quinnipiac, and Monmouth to win the MAAC Championship and earn an NCAA Tournament bid.

In the first round, the Peacocks would face No. 2 Kentucky. With Banks III producing 27 points and tournament darling Doug Edert adding 20 points off the bench, Saint Peter’s prevailed 85-79.

Advancing for a mid-major matchup with No. 7 Murray State, the Peacocks outlasted the Racers in a 70-60 defensive battle where Ndefo led with 17 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double.

Dancing all the way to the Sweet 16, Saint Peter’s would make history picking up a third win as Shaheen Halloway’s squad beat out No. 3 Purdue 67-64. The victory marked the first time that a 15 seed made the Elite 8 where the Peacocks dream run eventually ended at the hands of 69-49 defeat to No. 8 North Carolina.

As just the fourth 15 seed in history to make it all the way to the Sweet 16, the Princeton Tigers will have a chance to match Saint Peter’s when they face No. 6 Creighton on Friday.

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