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Kentucky's victory got me thinking...

Kentucky defeated North Carolina in Newark earlier today to win the 2011 NCAA Tournament's East Regional.

This result made me curious, which is occasionally a good thing. Since the NCAA Tournament went to seeding in 1978, how has the team that knocked out Princeton fared the rest of the way?

The Wildcats are the first Tiger tournament foe to make it to the Final Four since Mississippi State's run in 1996.

A 68-64 loss in 1990 to eventual Final Four participant Arkansas is the last time that Princeton was knocked out in the first round by a future Final Four team.

No team the Tigers have played in the NCAA Tournament since seeding was implemented has ever won a Final Four semi. Same goes for Rutgers pre-seeding in 1976.

In fact, the single example I can find of a team that beat Princeton winning in the Final Four is La Salle's 1955 victory over Iowa.

Third-seeded Florida (1994 second round over Penn), top-seeded Arizona (1988 first round over Cornell) and second-seeded Memphis State (1985 first round over Penn) all advanced to the Final Four and lost their semifinal game.

The lone team to knock out an Ivy League school and win in the Final Four since seeding began occurred in the first season of seeding. Back in 1978 Duke bested Penn 84-80 in the East Regional semifinals and beat Notre Dame in the Final Four before falling to Kentucky in the championship game.

I'm not sure if Michigan State's destruction of Penn in the 1979 Final Four should count twice or negate itself entirely for the purposes of this exercise.

Year - (Seed) Princeton Opponent - When They Lost
2011 - (4) Kentucky - ???
2004 - (3) Texas - Sweet 16
2001 - (2) North Carolina - Round of 32
1998 - (4) Michigan State* - Sweet 16
1997 - (5) California - Sweet 16
1996 - (5) Mississippi State* - Final Four
1992 - (6) Syracuse - Round of 32
1991 - (9) Villanova - Round of 32
1990 - (4) Arkansas - Final Four
1989 - (1) Georgetown - Elite Eight
1984 - (5) UNLV** - Sweet 16
1983 - (4) Boston College*** - Sweet 16
1981 - (6) BYU - Elite Eight

1977 - Kentucky - Elite Eight
1976 - Rutgers - Final Four

* Princeton won first round game, lost second round game.
** Princeton won preliminary round game, lost first round game.
*** Princeton won preliminary/first round games, lost second round game.

Steven Postrel said,

March 28, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

That 1990 Arkansas game still gives me heartburn. All we had to do was box out on one missed Razorback free-throw and we had them.

As for Kentucky this year, I kind of hope they go to the final game. I really like Brandon Knight and Josh Chamberlain, even though Calipari gets on my nerves a tad. But I have to pull for Butler to win it all, or VCU, failing that. I just want to watch the high-major lovers at ESPN have their heads explode.

Since the ESPN guys were so insistent that VCU's invitation was a travesty, their run is especially delicious, but Butler getting back to the Final Four again is such a great story. I hope Princeton can respond to its graduation losses as well as Butler did.

Jon Solomon said,

April 4, 2011 @ 7:13 am

"No team the Tigers have played in the NCAA Tournament since seeding was implemented has ever won a Final Four semi." = No great surprise that UConn beat Kentucky.

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