March Madness upset tracker: How far can Furman, Princeton go?

Who breaks the brackets? We’re tracking every upset of a 13, 14, 15 or 16 seed and wondering: Who can make a Cinderella run? Here are the results so far.

Princeton 59, Arizona 55

Minutes after pulling off what could turn out to be the biggest upset of the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson gathered his players in the middle of the locker room.

He was drenched in a mixture of sweat, water and sports drink, and the words this time only came out of a normally eloquent man. It was a message of pride, a direct order to enjoy the next 48 hours and a bit of disbelief at how they had overcome No. 2 Arizona, the eventual Pac 12 Tournament champions, to record a memorable 59 -55. victory

When he finally stopped talking, several of his Tigers players broke into a chorus.

“We’re not done yet,” they collectively shouted.

Who knows, maybe they’re right. Princeton will stay in Sacramento to face No. 7 Missouri on Saturday, perhaps buoyed by the reality that the No. 15 seed has been on a historic tear over the last few tournaments.

Once viewed as a virtual formality, that can no longer be said for a 2-on-15 matchup. Last season, St. Peter’s advanced all the way to the Elite Eight. A year earlier, Oral Roberts defeated Ohio State and Florida before narrowly losing in the Sweet 16.

From 2001 to 2012, there wasn’t a single win for a 15 seed. In the 11 years since, there have been seven. Princeton’s was as impressive as any.

Arizona had led by as many as 12 on Thursday, but Princeton, led by Tosan Evbuomwan’s 15 points, never went away. Down the stretch, Arizona was forced to repeat turnovers. Azuolas Tubelis’ 22 points weren’t enough, and when the Tigers took their first lead with two minutes remaining, the tide had firmly turned.

Caden Pierce knocked down a pair of free throws with 21.7 seconds left, and Evbuomwan fittingly iced the game with a rebound with three seconds left.

It’s not just a cliché to say that the Ivy Leaguers used their intelligence to claim victory. In fact, it is this intrinsic game plan that will give them the opportunity to progress even further in the category. Henderson’s layup effectively slowed Arizona’s offense and Princeton continued to gain momentum, with torrid defense, quick transition and a streak of big blocks.

The Tigers will need to maintain the same defensive intensity in their second-round matchup against a Missouri team that averages 79.5 points per contest, which ranked second in the SEC.

As for Arizona, the Wildcats now have the dubious distinction of becoming the first program to lose twice in the opening round as a No. 2 seed. The first time that still has a place in history, when a baby-faced Steve Nash shouldered Santa Clara to an epic upset in 1993.

This was another one, but it may not be the end. Princeton, as its players said loudly, is hungry for more.

Furman 68, Virginia 67

Are you looking for this year’s top candidate for a Cinderella ready for a dream career?

Well, Furman was the first team to raise its hand Thursday, with the NCAA Tournament’s first chance for a major upset providing just that.

The 13th-seeded Paladins upset No. 4 South Region seed Virginia, which knows all about being on the wrong end of painful upsets, thanks to an incredible turn of events in the final seconds in Orlando.

Bob Richey’s Furman team will now face the winner of the matchup between No. 5 San Diego State and No. 12 College of Charleston. The Aztecs are elite defensively but not great in the scoring column, while College of Charleston is a popular Cinderella pick, tied for the national lead in wins with 31.

Both San Diego State and College of Charleston are experienced groups, and both are on a roll. The Aztecs have won 10 of their last 11 games, while the Cougars are riding a 10-game winning streak heading into the Big Dance.

Whatever comes after that, Furman will never forget what happened in a few moments of true March-style madness.

In the final minute, Virginia appeared to have things under control, operating with a 67-63 lead, after taking defensive control down the stretch. But Kihei Clark missed a free throw, Furman senior Garrett Hien (a 51% FT shooter) made two from the stripe, and it all turned into chaos.

Furman pressured Virginia after the resulting inbounds pass, and Clark elected to throw the ball downfield without seeing him. It landed in Hien’s hands and was quickly handed off to the unprotected JP Pegues, who drained a 3-pointer to put his team ahead 68-67 with 2.2 seconds left.

Reece Beekman’s last-ditch effort was wayward for Virginia, and that was it.

This is SoCon Tournament champion Furman’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1980 and the program’s first tournament win since 1974. Thursday’s triumph came despite the absence of star guard Mike Bothwell in the last minutes after fouling.

Tony Bennett’s Virginia team had reached the ACC Tournament title game last weekend and led by as many as 12 Thursday before a comeback spurred by Furman’s Jalen Slawson, who finished with 19 points. .

This wasn’t on the same scale as when Bennett’s group was a No. 1 seed and lost to No. 16 UMBC on the exact same day five years ago, but it was an upset few saw coming. .

Most importantly, it served as an immediate warning. Cinderella, once again, comes to play.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX i subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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