Don’t label Princeton an underdog — it’s PRINCETON!

Don’t label Princeton an underdog — it’s PRINCETON!

The days between games during the NCAA Tournament can feel like months. Practices are held. Flights are booked. Press conferences are completed. Stories are written. Narratives are created. And while most love an underdog, there’s one that’s received the label without filling the criteria. Because despite this not being their forte, Princeton is never an underdog.

You can’t have privilege and pity.

After upsetting No. 2 Arizona and No. 7 Missouri, those “scrappy gym rats” at that small school from New Jersey will take on another “Goliath” when No. 15 Princeton faces No. 6 Creighton on Friday night in Louisville, Kentucky in the Sweet 16.

“Pretty surreal feeling,” guard Matt Allocco said after beating Arizona 59-55. “To beat a great team like that on this stage is a pretty special feeling. But also I can’t say I’m surprised. This team has been so good all year, so gritty. On paper, it’s going to look like a big upset. But we believe in each other and we think we’re a really good team. When we’re at our best, then I think we can beat anybody in the country.”

That doesn’t sound like someone who’s longing for America’s sympathy.

“The world looks at us as two upsets,” forward Tosan Evbuomwan said after they downed Missouri 78-63. “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.”

True Cinderellas don’t talk like that.

Princeton does have a deep basketball history

For those who are unaware, while it may seem weird that Princeton has made it this far, it’s only because you’re either young as hell, allergic to research, or both. And yes, as funny as it is that a school that doesn’t give out athletic scholarships is in the Sweet 16 with a roster that features only one player who was ranked coming out of high school — it would be a crime to think of anybody who goes to that school as “the little guy.”

People who choose to attend, and eventually graduate from, a university that has produced two Presidents, over 200 Rhode Scholars, and 12 Supreme Court Justices, with an endowment of $35.8 billion doesn’t get to play a role in a fairytale all because their fundamentally-sound basketball team won two games. This is the seventh time that the Tigers have made the Sweet 16, as they also went to the Final Four back in 1965.

Also, this might not even be Princeton’s most exciting “tourney run.” It’s hard to top what took place back in 1996 when they knocked off UCLA, who were the defending national champions and had four NBA players on their roster.

I get it, a team full of nerdy-looking white dudes whose basketball futures will only consist of rec league games after graduation is winning NCAA Tournament games that nobody expected them to and it’s got the people going.

But sooner than later — probably Friday night — this will come to an end, and they’ll be back to class. Besides, Bill Bradley ain’t walking through that door.

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.