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Know Your Small Conference Winners: Princeton Tigers

The only conference in America without its own tournament, the Ivy League still managed to help make Championship Week great with a masterful one-game playoff between rivals. Tied at 12-2 atop the league standings in the regular season, Princeton and Harvard went at it for the duration before a Doug Davis buzzer-beater punched the Tigers' ticket to the dance.

Davis' shot gave Princeton its first Ivy League title since 2004. The last time it won an NCAA game was all the way back in 1998, led by current Northwestern coach Bill Carmody.

A breakdown after the jump...

Location: Princeton, New Jersey

Enrollment: 5,113

Record: 25-6 (12-2)

Leading scorers: Kareem Maddox (13.9 ppg); Ian Hummer (13.9); Dan Mavraides (12.7)

What to know:

  • Size - Only 17 schools in the country are taller (77.8" avg. height). Leading scorers Maddox and Hummer are each about 6'8", 230 pounds, and can create mismatches all over the place. More importantly, everyone in Princeton's four-player forward rotation is between 6'8" and 6'11". The perception with small schools seems to be that they aren't big or strong enough to compete with the elite programs, but size is clearly not an issue for the Tigers.
  • Boxing Out - The Tigers own the defensive glass, and only rarely give up second chance opportunities. Maddox and Hummer both rank in the top 250 nationally in defensive rebounding percentage, and usually alternate shouldering the load each night. Even though John Calipari won't stand for much of it, Kentucky is still the type of team that can take dozens of bad shots for stretches, so shutting down the offensive glass could be the biggest key to an upset.
  • Big Shot Artist - We watched Doug Davis do it once, and around this time of year there's always the possibility he can do it again, right? Don't bet on it. The 5'11" point guard could have his hands full with future NBA lottery pick Brandon Knight, and will struggle to get his offense going. The Tigers might be best served if Davis, a 39.1% shooter from the field, focused on setting up his teammates instead of looking for offense. The 164lb junior averaged only 1.7 assists per game during the year, but the Tigers went 7-0 in games where he recorded at least three assists. The opportunity for another buzzer-beater might not be around if Davis' teammates aren't filling up the stat sheets. He needs to help get them there.

Seed/Outlook: #13. It's slightly ironic because the Tigers were given a very favorable seed, while Kentucky got the shaft to end up with a No. 4. Considering these two probably deserved to end up in a 3/14 game anyway, this is an ideal match. The Tigers don't appear to have the guard play to keep up with Coach Cal's bunch though, so don't expect an upset.


Know Your Small Conference Winners

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Northern Colorado
Old Dominion
St. Peter's