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Strictly Come Dancing: Princeton, Ivy League

Who? The Tigers of Princeton.

Where? Princeton, New Jersey, a picturesque town on its own branch of NJ Transit's Northeast Corridor line.

When? About 8PM on Saturday the 6th.

How? By beating Harvard for a season sweep of the second-place team in the conference.

Upset? By definition, no; the Ivy League is the last conference to resist the lure of a conference tournament, giving its auto-bid to the regular-season champion.

RPI: 46

SOS: 219

 

As any diligent student of the women's game knows, the most remarkable win in tournament history belongs to the Ivy League, when Allison Feaster's Harvard Crimson took advantage of a depleted Stanford Cardinal to notch a 71-67 victory in 1998, marking the only time a #16 seed has ever defeated a #1 seed in either the men's or the women's tournament.

Princeton will almost certainly not have an opportunity to repeat the feat... because the Tigers, with a stronger-than-normal out-of-conference schedule and an unblemished record in league play, have earned consideration for a higher seed than Harvard garnered in 1998. This will be their first trip to the NCAA tournament, and they have the tools to make their stay more than just forty minutes.

What has the difference been for the Tigers this season? Why have they gone from 14-14 with five conference losses last season to 21-2 and a run down the table this year? Coach Courtney Banghart has brought in two freshmen who play critical roles for this team. Point guard Lauren Polansky runs the team with a steady hand, averaging 2.5 assists per game and boasting an A/TO better than 2:1.

The buzz, however, has been around first-year forward Niveen Rasheed- and for good reason. She leads the team in scoring (15.2), rebounding (8.7), assists (2.9), and steals (2.4). She gets to the line almost three times more often than anyone else on the Tigers and shoots better than 50% from the field. She's not afraid to mix it up inside, and she's smart enough to know when not to force it. (Makes sense for an Ivy League kid.)

But this isn't a one-woman show. Center Devona Allgood hits 58.4% of her shots and pulls down a touch under eight rebounds per game, while guards Lauren Edwards and Addie Micir both drain the long ball more than forty percent of the time. Allgood, Edwards, and Micir all average in double figures.

They only have two losses, against UCLA and Rutgers. Solid out-of-conference wins include Delaware, Drexel, and Houston.

Have you seen this Princeton team live and in person? Let us know what you thought of them!