Thursday, May 12, 2011

Alumnus Day

When TigerBlog heard Princeton's matchup for the first round of the NCAA women's lacrosse tournament, he wondered how many times a Division I school has played against another school named for one of its alums.

Princeton plays this Saturday at James Madison, who graduated from Princeton in 1771.

This little fact started TB to wondering what other Division I matchups of this nature are possible.

For instance, could George Washington play against George Washington's alma mater? No, because George Washington never attended school past the age of 15.

Oral Roberts? He went to two small schools, neither of which is Division I.

TB thought of a few other Division I schools named for people. As near as he can tell, people like Robert Morris, George Mason, Brigham Young and Sam Houston never went to college.

Austin Peay went to Washington & Lee, and, while it rhymes, the latter is a Division III school. So too is Transylvania University, the alma mater of Stephen F. Austin.

Nope, as far as TB can figure, a matchup of Princeton and James Madison is the only in Division that fits this particular criteria.

Not that anyone at the game Saturday will care.

Especially those in Orange and Black. They'll just be happy they have a chance to be playing this time of year.

A mere 22 days ago, Princeton took a 6-5 record to Franklin Field to play Penn, who was riding a 34-game Ivy winning streak at the time. Princeton came into the game off a seven-goal loss to Maryland and a one-goal home loss to Harvard, but the Tigers never trailed on their way to a stunning 11-7 win, one that began the season turnaround.

Starting then, Princeton is 5-1 in its last six, including four wins in a row. And that was hardly an easy stretch.

Princeton beat Columbia by eight to finish its Ivy schedule and then knocked off Penn State, then ranked 13th, by a commanding 19-10 final in the regular-season finale

That left the Ivy League tournament, something that Princeton probably needed to win to get an NCAA bid. And who would be standing in the way?

First, it was Penn, again on Penn's home field. This time, Princeton trailed four times and came back each time, eventually building a late two-goal lead - only to see Penn rally to force overtime.

Princeton, though, didn't give in, scoring twice in the six extra minutes to win the semifinal game 10-8 to set up a meeting in the final with Harvard.

Princeton stormed out to a five-goal lead as TB watched on the small TV in his office before heading out to the Ivy baseball championship Game 3 on Clarke Field between Princeton and Dartmouth (Princeton won 8-5).

TB hardly had reached the field before Harvard had caught up, and every update he got from that point on was close. Eventually, the PA announcer at Clarke Field gave the final score - Princeton 12, Harvard 10.

While it doesn't count as an Ivy title, it does give Princeton the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Without, Princeton might not be getting on buses later today to make the six-hour rid to Harrisonburg.

Waiting there will be a team that defeated Princeton 10-5 during the regular season, way back in mid-March. If 22 days seems like a long time ago, then that first meeting with James Madison seems like a few seasons ago.

JMU is the eighth seed, while Princeton is unseeded. The winner of that game is headed to a meeting with the winner of the game between No. 1 Maryland and Navy.

In other words, to get to the Final Four, Princeton will probably have to beat two seeded teams, including the top seed, both on the road.

It won't be easy.

Then again, getting into the tournament at all for Princeton wasn't either.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

TB - here's at least one that's close to home:

UPenn (Ben Franklin founded, did not attend) v Franklin & Marshall - both are D-I squash

Wm & Mary (John Marshall) v Franklin & Marshall