Wild Weekend Makes March Madness a Reality
For powerhouse programs, a Sweet 16 berth is often overlooked and underappreciated. Becoming one of the final 16 out of 363 teams in college basketball is no easy feat, especially when you consider the pure pandemonium we witnessed over the weekend.
March Madness lived up to its name. We saw some expected upsets, like No. 13 Furman over No. 4 Virginia. However, no March Madness expert picks predicted No. 15 Princeton defeating No. 2 Arizona and No. 1 Purdue falling to No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson.
For the first time, 15 and 16 seeds won in the same tournament. Plus, this was only the fifth time – and first since 2018– that two No. 1 seeds lost before the Sweet 16. Two No. 2 seeds were also sent home on the opening weekend.
With top seeds bowing out, several unexpected teams have reached the Sweet 16. However, the glass slipper only fits one. Who is the top Cinderella story thus far?
Also check on these NCAAB betting lines.
Four Cinderella Teams Catch the Eye
The Sweet 16 features four teams with a No. 7 seed or lower. Few March Madness predictions had these teams making it to the second weekend. Despite the sportsbook listing them as underdogs, they seized the moment.
No. 7 Michigan State, No. 8 Arkansas, No. 9 Florida Atlantic and No. 15 Princeton are the surprise teams to advance to the Sweet 16. They will take on the underdog role once again as NCAA basketball odds give each team a slim chance to make the Final Four.
In the East Region, Michigan State (+325) and Florida Atlantic (+400) are the last choices to win the bracket. Arkansas holds the highest odds to win the West (+550), and Princeton is a heavy underdog in the South (+3300).
The Las Vegas odds say enough. Princeton holds the highest odds to win its region by a wide margin. Miami at +875 in the Midwest is the second-highest line. The Tigers of the Ivy League are the story no one saw coming.
Princeton Continues Shocking 15 Seed Runs
The last two tournaments featured No. 15 seeds advancing from the first round. Oral Roberts made the Sweet 16 in 2021, and Saint Peter’s played in the Elite Eight last year. Surely the 15-seed hot streak would end. Well … so much for that.
The Tigers quickly shocked the world with the tournament’s first major upset on Thursday. As 15-point underdogs, Princeton kept it close with No. 2 Arizona. The Tigers held the Wildcats scoreless in the final 4:45 and several players delivered clutch field goals and free throws. The run didn’t end there. In the battle of Tigers, Princeton dominated Missouri from the start with a 78-63 win.
PRINCETON ON FIRE 🔥
No. 15 Princeton running up the board on No. 7 Missouri 😱 pic.twitter.com/DymmNh9nDh
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 19, 2023
The Tigers played back-to-back teams in the top 10 of Kenpom’s offensive efficiency. Princeton held the potent offenses to only 59 points per game, 42% shooting and 10 of 39 on 3-pointers (25.6%). Plus, forward Tosan Evbuomwan has continued to stuff the stat sheet. He could be a coveted player in the transfer portal during the offseason, as the Ivy League does not allow graduate students to play.
Fairleigh Dickinson is the only other school to rival Princeton’s run. If FDU made the Sweet 16, the Tigers would likely be playing second fiddle. However, the Knights fell in the second round against Florida Atlantic. The Tigers are enjoying the limelight but will be underdogs in Friday’s game against No. 6 Creighton. Most March Madness picks are favoring the Bluejays, who are favored by 9½ points. Will Princeton defy the odds once again vs. Creighton? Regardless, this is a Cinderella to remember.