Cinderella Princeton, Florida Atlantic continue dancing into Sweet 16

by Jacob Fuller

Rob Issa, FISM News

Princeton and Florida Atlantic are in the Sweet 16, while Kentucky, Duke, and North Carolina are all out for only the second time since 1979.

This year’s March Madness has lived up to its billing as it has been all about the underdogs.

Defending national champion Kansas and fellow No. 1 seed Purdue were eliminated. No. 2 seeds Marquette and Arizona are gone, too.

In addition to ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic and 15th-seeded Princeton, No.6 Creighton, No. 7 Michigan State, and No. 8 Arkansas are heading to play in the next round in the NCAA Tournament.


Princeton beat Missouri 78-63 on Saturday to reach the NCAA Tournament regional semifinals for the first time in 56 years. Blake Peters made five 3-pointers in the second half to lead the Ivy League school.

“I have no words for you,” Peters said. “We have such an unbelievable section [of fans] here. I have the best teammates in the world. I love each and every one of them. when we go out and believe in each other, anything is possible. I know it’s cliche, but anything is possible.”


Florida Atlantic advanced with a 78-70 over No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson (FDU) on Sunday night. Johnell Davis scored 29 points and Alijah Martin added 14 for FAU. FDU became just the second 16th seed in tournament history to beat a top seed when the Knights upset Purdue in the opening round.

“We always talk about 6-0 runs, we were one 6-0 run away from the Sweet 16,” FDU coach Tobin Anderson said. “We went toe to toe with a top-five team in the country, and this team is a top-25 team in the country. We went toe to toe the last few days with two great teams and didn’t back down, didn’t go away. We’re not just happy to be here.”


Ryan Nembhard had a career-high 30 points to lead Creighton to an 85-76 victory over third-seeded Baylor 85-76 on Sunday night. The Bluejays are in the Sweet 16 for the second time in three seasons. They’ll face Princeton on Friday.


Tyson Walker scored 23 points to help Michigan State advance with a 69-60 victory over No. 2 Marquette on Sunday. The victory sends Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo to his 15th regional semifinal and gave him a record 16th tournament win with a lower-seeded team — one more than Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim.

“I’ve been in Elite Eight games; I’ve been in the Final Four — that was as intense and tough a game as I’ve been in my career,” Izzo said.


Davonte Davis scored 25 points and Ricky Council IV had 21 as Arkansas rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit to knock off Kansas on Saturday. The Razorbacks upset No. 1 Gonzaga last year and eliminated the defending champion Jayhawks despite three players fouling out.

“That’s such an unbelievable win for our program,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. “I keep telling people that we’re getting better. Not many teams can get better this time of year.”


Alabama and Houston are the only No. 1 seeds still alive in the tournament.

Jahvon Quinerly scored 22 points, Brandon Miller added 19 and top overall seed Alabama breezed past Maryland 73-51 on Saturday.

In the other top-seed victory, Tramon Mark scored a career-best 26 points. Marcus Sasser added 22 and Houston stifled Auburn in an 81-64 victory to advance on Saturday.


No. 5 San Diego State routed No. 13 Furman 75-52 to set up a matchup against Alabama in the South region semifinal.

No. 4 Tennessee knocked off Duke 65-52 to advance to face FAU in the East region.

No. 3 Kansas State beat Kentucky 75-69 and will play Michigan State in the East’s other semifinal.

The Midwest region features nearly all the favorites. No. 5 Miami beat No. 4 Indiana 85-69 on Sunday night and will face top-seeded Houston in one semifinal. The other pits No. 2 Texas against No. 3 Xavier.

In the West region, No. 2 UCLA takes on No. 3 Gonzaga, and No. 4 Connecticut plays Arkansas.

The Sweet Sixteen begins Thursday at 5:30 pm EST.