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‘Princeton comes together when there’s a special moment’: Enthusiasm soars as March Madness watch parties reach capacity

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Angel Kuo / The Daily Princetonian

Across campus and throughout the town of Princeton, normal activities paused as watch parties boomed in anticipation of Friday’s historic Sweet 16 match-up between the Princeton Tigers and the Creighton Bluejays. 

The official Undergraduate Student Government (USG) watch party took place in the Whig Hall Senate Chamber, a room with a capacity of 280. Whig Hall, along with local bars Alchemist & Barrister and Winberie’s Restaurant & Bar, reached capacity before the game tip-off at about 9:30 p.m.


“I do wish we could go watch the game,” Marissa Michaels ’22 told The Daily Princetonian late Friday night. Whig Hall was her second stop after visiting a bar in town. “That was too crowded, and now this is too crowded,” she said.

Michaels is an associate news editor emeritus for the ‘Prince.’

Aarushi Adlakha / The Daily Princetonian

The only place that graduate student Nate Dow and his friends could find a seat was outside of Alchemist & Barrister. On the windows of the bar, multiple signs read “Currently at full capacity. Please do not enter” by 8:30 p.m.


“Everybody loves an underdog,” Dow told the ‘Prince’ before the game. “It’s been a good story so far, so hoping we can keep it going, and they’ve got a chance. They’ve taken down tougher teams than Creighton.”

Whig’s exterior was illuminated in orange in celebration of the event. The party started at 7:30 p.m. with a poster-making station and other activities. USG representatives, including President Stephen Daniels ’24, distributed temporary tattoos, stickers, and tiger ears in Oakes Lounge. Chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, and waffle fries were served in the Senate Chamber, and both the Chamber and Oakes Lounge were decorated with orange and black balloons and posters of the players.

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By 9 p.m., Whig had reached capacity and many people could not get seats, but students refused to let that dampen the mood. When asked how she felt about the event, Michelle Thurber ’26 shouted “I’m so excited!”, and when a cameraman told the crowd they were on national news, cheers erupted. Students stood on chairs and tables, and some watched from the balcony one floor above. 

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Angel Kuo / The Daily Princetonian

Michaels expressed that she feels Princeton often lacks school spirit when it comes to sports.

“It’s a shame that for sports, our school spirit only seems to get to really high levels when we’re at a really high national level of sports, and we don’t seem to have the same showing of school spirit when we’re competing on our typical level, which is also really high,” she added.

McCosh Hall 10, the room designated for overflow with a capacity of 350, was less crowded than Whig Hall, but the enthusiasm was palpable. Two high school seniors, Jayden Hill and Kyler Zhou from Princeton Day School, were in McCosh to watch the game. Hill stated, “This is a really, really close game … I’m on my toes right now.” 

When asked how he was feeling, Zhou said, “Proud and excited, and a little anxious too.” 

Both students claimed to be members of the Princeton Class of 2027, and Hill said he was recruited for football. The ‘Prince’ could not independently verify that they were admitted to Princeton. Princeton Day School does not have a football team. 

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Angel Kuo / The Daily Princetonian

By 9 p.m., Winberie’s had also reached capacity, according to a fire marshall inside the building. 

Graduate student Matt Mleczko told the ‘Prince’, “[Winberie’s] is probably my favorite atmosphere to watch a game like this. I’m really just here to watch to enjoy.”

Operations Research and Financial Engineering (ORFE) professor Alain L. Kornhauser GS’ 71 expressed his excitement for the game to the ‘Prince’ inside Winberie’s.

“If San Diego can beat Alabama, we can beat Creighton,” he said. “It’s been a long time since the Sweet Sixteen. I’m just happy for the kids.”

“I’m glad they came back here and worked on their thesis,” he added.

Following the loss, David Shao ’26 expressed his disappointment. “We did so well for the first half … I feel like it was an 11-point curse, we were always 11 points behind in the second half.” He added, “We did so well … we advanced this far into the tournament. I think that they should come back being very proud of themselves.”

In addition to local watch parties, some Princeton students and alumni even traveled to Louisville, Ky. for the game.

Mike Nixon ’00 was in Sacramento to watch Princeton play its initial March Madness games last weekend, and he said he had “no doubt” that he was going to Louisville for Friday’s game. “There wasn’t even an iota of hesitation,” he told the ‘Prince.’

“I love basketball, but this is special,” he added. “Princeton comes together when there is a special moment.”

Madeleine (Peake) Brase ’16 also made the trek to Louisville from Minnesota for the game.

“It’s amazing to see the support here and the alumni that have come tonight,” she said.

Olivia Sanchez is a staff news writer for the ‘Prince.’

Lia Opperman is an associate news editor for the ‘Prince.’

Associate News Editor Tess Weinreich contributed reporting.

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