Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sweet 16

TigerBlog wants to say this before it's too late: The Detroit Lions are pretty lucky.

All anyone is talking about after the Lions lost 24-20 to Dallas Sunday was the pass interference/non-pass interference call that happened in the fourth quarter. You either know all the details by now, and if you don't, skip down a few paragraphs to the part about Princeton basketball.

Meanwhile, back at the NFL, the Lions today are largely viewed as victims of either a conspiracy to match up the Cowboys and Green Bay Packers in the next round or of just plain incompetent officiating.

To TigerBlog, the issue wasn't the call itself; it was the way the call was made, announced and then reversed with no explanation. Had the flag never been thrown in the first place, or had the ref announced that there was actually no penalty on the play, then it wouldn't have been nearly as big a deal.

So why were the Lions lucky? Because everyone is talking about the call and nobody is talking about how the Lions basically blew it.

First, it was fourth and 1 at the Dallas 46 after the call was reversed, with about seven minutes to go. What did Detroit do? It lined up like it was going for it, only it instead did that thing where the team tries to draw the defense offside. It didn't work.

So then it was a five-yard delay penalty and then a 10-yard punt, which meant a net of five yards from where the ball was on the 4th-and-1. Then Detroit allowed Dallas to convert on two fourth downs on the next drive, which ended up in the end zone.

And then Detroit didn't come close to scoring on the final drive.

But hey, it was all the call, right? Look, it should have been a penalty. Even the NFL announced it today.

But it's not why Detroit lost.

And while he's on the subject, TigerBlog loves a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but there's no way the refs were in on it. For one thing, why would they have waited until that point of the game to try to influence it? And for another, why would the NFL fix the game? Ratings are through the roof regardless of who plays.

The Detroit-Dallas game had a pretty good Princeton connection, with alums Jason Garrett (Dallas head coach) and Caraun Reid (player for Detroit), not to mention the owners of the Lions, the Ford Family, as in the Ford Family Director of Athletics.

Oh, and speaking of Princeton and football, Mark Eckel of NJ Advance Media wrote yesterday that Marc Ross, Class of 1995 and one of the great wide receivers/punt returners in Tiger history, would make a great GM for the Eagles. Ross is currently the No. 2 man in the Giants front office.

Ross, like current Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux, was a student-worker in the Princeton Office of Athletic Communications as an undergrad. Ross used to work at basketball games, answering the phones when they rang and giving updates to other schools or the wires or anyone else who had to call to get the score, before the internet made it so simple.

Ross - his nickname then was "Money" - sat in the press section at Jadwin Gym, which back then was on the south side and set up in the bleachers, right at midcourt. Now it's on the north side, with press tables, as opposed to bleacher seats.

The press tables will be set up tonight, when Princeton hosts Norfolk State. The teams have never met before.

Norfolk State is 9-7 on the year. Perhaps you remember the Spartans from their NCAA tournament win over Missouri in 2012.

The game tonight is the last game before the big doubleheader Saturday with Penn, with the women at 2 and the men at 5. After that, it'll be first semester exams.

The Princeton women moved into the national Top 25 yesterday, checking in at No. 22. Princeton then had to play at Hampton last night.

Princeton was undefeated heading into the game, the final non-league game of the season for the Tigers. The game wasn't going to be easy, and it wasn't.

First, Hampton's RPI of 54 made it the highest ranked team Princeton has played to date. Second, the Pirates are very, very good, with a 15-point win over Penn and some pretty strong showings against ranked teams, including No. 1 South Carolina.

In the end, it was Sweet 16 for the Princeton women, who completed their non-league schedule at a perfect 16-0 with a 75-63 win in Virginia. Now it's nothing but Ivy games.

Princeton is one of four undefeated teams in Division I women's basketball, out of 350 teams. The other three are South Carolina, Mississippi State and Texas.

Want a great stat from last night? Princeton shot 26 for 57 (46%), with the five starters at 12 for 40 (30%) and the bench at 14 for 17 (82%).

No matter what happens from here, Princeton will have accomplished a perfect non-league record. The 16-0 start is the best in Ivy League women's basketball history.

Of course, the goal is to get to the NCAA tournament. The way there is through an Ivy League championship.

The second part of the season, the Ivy season, starts Saturday.

The first part ended last night in Virginia with perfection.

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