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After Ivy Madness, Princeton Basketball shifts focus to postseason

Women's basketball wins Ivy Madness 2024.
Photo courtesy of @PrincetonWBB/X.

After a weekend where the women’s basketball team toppled Columbia en route to their fifth consecutive Ivy Madness title, and the men’s team fell in disappointing fashion to Brown, the Princeton Basketball program learned their postseason fates Sunday evening.

The women will be headed to Iowa City, Iowa where they will take on West Virginia University (WVU) in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The men’s team will stay in New Jersey, where they will take on University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).


The Daily Princetonian previews the two games.

Familiar territory: Five consecutive tournament appearances for Berube and the Tigers

Announced on ESPN’s Selection Sunday, the Tigers are seeded ninth, the highest seed Princeton has had since the 2015 season, when the team was seeded eighth and beat University of Wisconsin–Green Bay in the first round. 

Their opponent: the eighth-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers (24–7 overall, 12–6 Big 12 Conference). Led by first-year coach Mark Kellogg, WVU is ranked No. 21 in the NET rankings, and was as high as No. 22 in the AP Top 25 Poll this season. For WVU, their only win over a currently ranked opponent came over No. 18 Oklahoma, and the Mountaineers finished 2–6 against the top five teams in the Big 12. After starting the season with a sweltering 22–3 record, the Mountaineers stuttered to the finish line, ending the regular season with three losses in five games.

Guard JJ Quinerly leads the way for WVU, averaging 19.6 points per game while holding a reputation as one of the strongest defensive guards in the country. Quinerly was awarded Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in recent weeks and named a semifinalist for Naismith Woman’s Defensive Player of the Year. 

Even with Princeton’s strong non-conference record and No. 34 NET ranking, the Mountaineers have their eyes set on a potential second-round matchup with the one-seed Iowa Hawkeyes. “Let’s win one and send Caitlin Clark packing,” Kellogg quipped about his team’s chances this weekend.


Perhaps that’s just the nature of being in the same region as the Hawkeyes, especially as superstar guard Caitlin Clark continues to rake in attention in her quest for a national title. If Princeton were to advance past WVU, the Tigers would have to contend with the talents of Clark, who’s averaged 31.9 points per game — and the already sold-out Iowa crowd. 

Having coached Caitlin Clark on the 2017 Under-16 US National Team, Princeton Head Coach Carla Berube is certainly acquainted with Clark and her game, and vice versa. 

“I’m very familiar with her and how she coaches, and she’s done a great job,” Clark told The Athletic about Berube on Sunday.

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Whatever happens with the Tigers, Princeton won’t be the only Ivy League team in the Big Dance, as Columbia earned an at-large bid as a 12-seed. The Lions will play Vanderbilt in the First-Four, with the winner advancing to play fifth-seeded Baylor. For the first time in the expanded era, the Ivy League is a two-bid conference. 

Men’s basketball heads to NIT: The annual “Not Invited Tournament”

The NIT is a postseason tournament that generally features teams who did not make the NCAA tournament, but were on the bubble. The tournament features 32 teams, with 16 of those teams being seeded 1–4. The four number one seeds are Villanova, Indiana State, Seton Hall, and Wake Forest.

Princeton (24–4 overall, 12–2 Ivy League) will play University of Nevada, Las Vegas (19–12, 12–6 Mountain West) in the first round of the NIT on Wednesday at 8 p.m. inside Jadwin Gymnasium, where the Tigers are an impressive 12–0. The Tigers are a second seed and a potential second-round matchup would pit the Tigers against Providence College or Boston College at Jadwin once more. 

UNLV played in one of the best conferences this season. The Mountain West sent an impressive six teams to the NCAA tournament. During the season, the Rebels had impressive wins against Creighton, New Mexico, Boise State, Colorado State, and San Diego State. All five of those teams made the NCAA tournament and were seeded 10 or better. 

UNLV is ranked 76th in the latest NCAA NET rankings. The biggest drawback of the Rebel’s resume was their Quad four record, where they had three losses. Guard Dedan Thomas Jr. leads the Rebels in scoring, averaging 14.1 points per game.

This will be the Tiger’s fifth matchup against the Rebels in history — the last time the two sides met was in 1999. However, they also played each other during the first round of the 1998 NCAA tournament. The Tigers were a No. 5 seed and beat the Rebels 69–57 in a game that featured current head coach Mitch Henderson ’98 and current Cornell head coach Brian Earl ’99. The two Ivy coaches combined for 40 points and played all 40 minutes in the contest.

For the Tigers, this is their eighth time playing in the NIT and third under Henderson. Princeton notably won the NIT in 1975 after an 11-point win against Providence at the iconic Madison Square Garden. 

With speculation that Henderson’s tenure at Princeton may be coming to an end with interest from Stanford, this is a game to watch.

The women’s team will square off against the West Virginia Mountaineers at 5:30 p.m. EST at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which is Caitlin Clark’s home court. Tip-off for the men will be at Jadwin Gymnasium at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

Cole Keller is a head editor for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’

Hayk Yengibaryan is an associate Sports editor for the ‘Prince.’

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