Princeton’s sweet weekend: Tigers stun college basketball world in march to Sweet 16

Princeton guard Blake Peters (24) reacts after making a 3-point shot during the second half of the team’s first-round college basketball game against Arizona in the men’s NCAA Tournament in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, March 16, 2023. Princeton won 59-55.
AP Photo/José Luis Villegas

After Princeton’s upset win over Missouri on Saturday, sophomore guard Blake Peters looked into the camera and shouted a phrase that Kevin Garnett had made famous roughly 15 years earlier. 

“ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!” Peters screamed with Tigers head coach Mitch Henderson standing beside him. And after two wins over the No. 2 seed Arizona Wildcats and No. 7 Missouri Tigers to reach the Sweet 16, Peters doesn’t appear to be wrong. 

Princeton became the latest underdogs to keep their Cinderella story going during March Madness with a dominating performance on Saturday afternoon to punch the school’s ticket to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1967. 

They’ll play again on Friday. 

The win on Saturday erased a stretch where Princeton had lost in the tournament’s second round in appearances in 1996 and 1998 after upset wins in those years. 

“The world looks at us as two upsets,” senior forward Tosan Evbuomwan said. “But I feel like we’re supposed to be here. We have a lot of confidence in one another, what we’re doing. There’s definitely no letup with this group.”

The Tigers have that confidence for good reason, even before they began their path to the Sweet 16. Princeton had punched its ticket to the big dance with an Ivy League title earlier this month and dating back to Feb. 18, the school’s men’s basketball team hasn’t lost a single game. 

Princeton’s victory over Missouri was yet another reminder of the wackiness that can come this time of year, especially with the impressive performance in the second round. Princeton’s 13-point win was the largest margin of victory by a 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history and they had led a majority of the game by double digits. 

And their run is quickly harkening college basketball fans back to Saint Peter’s run to the Elite Eight in last year’s tournament. 

“I’ve always dreamed of playing deep into the tournament,” said Henderson, who played on the Princeton team that won in 1996 and 1998. “As a player, got to the second round a couple of times. Never got beyond it.”

And it isn’t just the men’s team that has captured the imagination of college basketball fans. Princeton’s women’s team pulled off a stunning upset of their own, defeating No. 7 N.C. State on a last-second shot by Grace Stone in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament. 

It marked the first time an Ivy League program’s men’s and women’s teams both advanced in the NCAA Tournament.  

“We watched that game and looked at each other and said, ‘All right, we’re next. It’s our turn,’” said senior guard Julia Cunningham. 

For more NCAA tournament coverage, visit amNY Sports