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The Clock Strikes Midnight On Princeton's Cinderella Run As Creighton Outsmarts The Tigers And Moves On To Their First Elite Eight

I said what I said. The Creighton Bluejays, with their generous 77% acceptance rate and highly capable basketball players, at least for one evening outsmarted and out-executed the 4% acceptance rate Ivy League darling of the NCAA Tournament. Look, Princeton's run to the Sweet 16 as a 15th seed is historic and delighted all of America. Then the big brains at Creighton decided enough was e-fucking-nough.

They basically said, "Hey, let's let only two Princeton players get pretty much all of their points, use our athletic advantage to big-boy them on the boards, and not be intimidated by the fact that everyone outside of Omaha (where our university is) is rooting against us."

The Bluejays even gifted their underdog opponent with 13 turnovers while forcing only five. They just lit it the hell up with 58.2% shooting from the field. My hunch is, it was all about this pregame reading.


^^^ That's what a cynic might say. But let me tell you, these Creighton dudes were getting their intellectualness on before tip-off and you can't tell me it didn't pay massive dividends. You invest in the brain, you win the game. That applies to basketball and life. Think about it. Mental health and what not.

These guys didn't need a "clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose" speech. Even when the Tigers kept pace in a hotly contested 47-43 first half, there was no panic in the Jays. When they built a sizable second-half lead (as much as 16 points), Princeton predictably made the SMART move to adjust defensively, dropping into a 1-3-1 zone. Some tight-bunghole possessions led to a little run by the Tigers. For a second it looked like Princeton might scheme their way back into the game. In the end, Creighton figured it out, hit enough shots down the stretch and didn't have to sweat too much.

Big salute to Ryan Langborg (26) and Tosan Evbuomwan (24), who accounted for almost all of the Tigers' points. 

Save for Ryan Nembhard (game-high nine assists), every Jays starter scored in double figures, led by big man Ryan Kalkbrenner (22), Baylor Scheierman (21, including five 3-pointers), and Trey Alexander (19).

Damn though. First Elite Eight ever for the Creighton Bluejays. You love to see it. Seems like they've been knocking on the door for a while and couldn't get over the hump. 

You can say the Jays benefited from playing a No. 15 seed all you want, but they were gonna beat anyone they lined up against tonight. Especially with that pregame reading session. Any Princeton person who saw that scene from Creighton's locker room had to have known it was a bad omen that the Jays were studying harder than their team. Good vibes, last-minute mindset adjustments…you can't downplay how huge that was.

Now it'll be a battle for the South Region title between sixth-seeded Creighton and No. 5 San Diego State. A trip to the Final Four on the line. No No. 1 seeds in the Elite Eight for the first time ever. AWESOME. THIS IS MARCH.

Twitter @MattFitz_gerald/TikTok