When Was the Last Time Princeton Reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament?
The chaos that is the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament has officially concluded, and Cinderella is still dancing. This year, Cinderella is represented by the Ivy League champion Princeton Tigers, who upset Arizona and Missouri to become the fourth 15 seed ever to reach the Sweet 16.
Princeton’s basketball program has been around for 123 years, but have the Tigers ever reached the Sweet 16 before their magical run in 2023?
15 seed Princeton stuns Arizona and Missouri to reach Sweet 16
When you were first filling out your bracket last week, you likely didn’t notice Princeton in the East region when you advanced Arizona to the Round of 32. Princeton wasn’t even the best team in the Ivy League this season — that was Yale — and Arizona won the Pac-12 Tournament to enter March Madness as a trendy pick to win it all.
That’s the beauty of the NCAA Tournament, though. It doesn’t matter what the matchup looks like on paper. Anyone can beat anyone when the calendar flips to March, and Princeton is the perfect example of that.
Trailing by five with four minutes remaining, Princeton closed the game on a 9-0 run to upset Arizona and become the 11th 15 seed to win a game in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers held the Pac-12 champions to just 55 points and forced 13 turnovers in the shocking victory.
But they weren’t done dancing yet.
In the Round of 32, Princeton dominated 7-seeded Missouri from the opening tip and won, 78-63, to advance to the Sweet 16. The Tigers are the worst seed remaining in the NCAA Tournament, but be careful before you count them out. Just last year, Saint Peter’s knocked off Kentucky, Murray State, and Purdue to become the first 15 seed to reach the Elite 8.
Could Princeton be the second?
Has Princeton ever been to the Sweet 16 before?
The Princeton basketball program has been around since 1900, but it doesn’t have much NCAA Tournament success to peak of. Since the NCAA Tournament was created in 1939, Princeton has made the field 26 times.
Only twelve of those appearances came after the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The Tigers lost in the first round in eight of those tourney berths, and they lost in the second round in the other four. The last time Princeton reached the Sweet 16 was in 1967, but that was when the NCAA Tournament featured a 30-team field. Princeton won its first-round game against West Virginia before losing to North Carolina in the “Sweet 16.”
The Tigers have reached one Final Four in their 123-year history. In 1965, Princeton knocked off Penn State, North Carolina State, and Providence before losing to Michigan in the national semifinals.
Most of Princeton’s success came before 1970, as the Tigers have never reached the Sweet 16 in an NCAA Tournament field of 64 or more teams. This group could go down as the best team in school history with a win against Creighton and an Elite 8 appearance.