Princeton ruins 93% of brackets in ESPN Tournament Challenge

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No. 2 Arizona lost 59-55 against No. 15 Princeton in an early first-round upset of the 2023 NCAA Tournament on Thursday, and the Wildcats’ defeat has knocked out 93% of perfect brackets in the ESPN Tournament Challenge. Counting all brackets across sites, just 0.12% are perfect after Princeton’s shocking win.

About 20 million brackets were submitted in the ESPN Tournament Challenge. However, less than 35,000 remain perfect through seven games. No. 13 Furman stunned No. 4 Virginia, unveiling yet another surprising outcome to help squash a fan’s dream of owning a perfect bracket.

Out of the millions of NCAA brackets submitted, only 787 are perfect after Day 1. Snoop Dogg had Arizona advancing to the second round to take on No. 7 Missouri. Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks also expected the Wildcats to play No. 10 Utah St. in the next round.

According to multiple college basketball sportsbooks, Princeton won as a 16-point underdog, the largest upset win by an Ivy League team since the NCAA Tournament expanded in 1985.

Furthermore, Arizona became the first team in NCAA Tournament history with multiple losses to No. 15 seeds in any round. During the opening round of the 1993 tournament, the Wildcats lost to Steve Nash and 15-seed Santa Clara as well. Those participating in the ESPN Tournament Challenge are fuming right about now.

In Thursday’s win, the Tigers scored the final nine points. Princeton trailed by 10 with eight minutes to play and struggled to make a free throw until there were 21 seconds left. This upset marked the third consecutive year and 11th time that a No. 15 seed won a first-round game.

Arizona’s 59-55 upset loss to Princeton ruins 93% of perfect brackets in ESPN Tournament Challenge

Arizona has three players in its eight-man rotation who are 6-foot-11 or taller. Though, the Wildcats were outscored 29-24 in the second half. Junior forward Azuolas Tubelis led Arizona in scoring with 22 points in 38 minutes of action. But it was not enough in the end.

Additionally, Princeton coach Mitch Henderson played for the 1996 team that defeated defending champion No.4 UCLA in the school’s final tournament under coach Pete Carril, who died in August at the age of 92.

“I’ve been the beneficiary of that game [against UCLA], along with my teammates, for a long time,” said Henderson of Princeton’s 43-41 upset win as a No. 13 seed in 1996. But I’m the coach here and my charge — I’m very present about this — is I want that for them.

“That’s very, very simple. And they did that today. They made so many people proud and happy today. They deserve it. He [Pete Carril] would be very proud of the group,” Henderson said. “He wouldn’t want any attention to be brought other than what these guys did. They played to win. We knew we had to keep the game low possessions.”

Princeton has now advanced to play No. 7 Missouri in the second round of the South Region. The Tigers defeated No. 10 Utah State 76-65. How many more perfect brackets will Princeton destroy? Considering the Tigers were good enough to upset Arizona, a win over Missouri next is possible.


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