Who? The Tigers of Princeton.
What? A cursory glance shows no specific reason why, but tigers have been associated with Princeton since at least 1911.
Where? The picturesque town of Princeton, New Jersey.
When? As of the conclusion of the Ivy League season on March 6th. They officially clinched with two weeks left in the regular season, thanks to their complete dominance and a little help from their friends. (Yale managed to lose to Columbia, giving Columbia their first Ivy win. The masses rejoiced.)
Why? Because they won the Ivy League regular season, and since the Ivy League has no conference tournament, the regular season champ is the champ. It’s kind of refreshing.
How? They beat every team in conference by at least ten points.
Surprise? No. World of no. Expected to finish first, and they did so with panache.
RPI (as of 3/5): 26
SOS (as of 3/5): 80
Record: 24-4 (14-0 Ivy)
Good wins: Villanova, Marist; at Hofstra looked a lot better in the first half of the season.
Bad losses: At Navy, especially as it kicked off a three-game losing streak.
Who’s running this show? Courtney Banghart, since 2007. She’s been in the Ivy since 2003, factoring in her assistant days at alma mater Dartmouth.
Strictly in basketball terms, using the NCAA tournament as a metaphorical schoolyard and its teams as the children on it, Princeton is not the nerd that gets beat up on by the bullies. Princeton is the nerd whose parents sent her to karate lessons every day since she was three. She takes her lumps from the bigger kids, but dishes out more than a few of her own, and occasionally she beats up the really little kids who tease her for being a nerd.
Now that we’re done with this tortured metaphor, down to the real nitty-gritty. Princeton is not a team to be trifled with. Junior forward Niveen Rasheed, coming off last year’s torn ACL, is back at full strength, putting up 16.8 points and 8.8 rebounds. She’s far from alone, though; senior guard Lauren Edwards is a deep threat, while senior center Devona Allgood is a target in the middle. Sophomore Nicole Hung is one of the best sixth men I’ve seen this year. Junior Lauren Polansky has one of my favorite ratios- more turnovers forced (68 steals) than committed (67). But she can be an offensive liability, and Allgood can be inconsistent.