Thursday, March 5, 2020

Automatic Bids On The Mat

TigerBlog doesn't use any notes or anything during his podcasts.

He just starts the conversation and sees where it goes. Usually, this makes for a better, more informal presentation. Sometimes it means he leaves out something that he should have included.

Take yesterday for instance. TB had just finished his podcast with Carla Berube when she reminded him of something that he'd meant to bring up (and had mentioned here earlier in the week) and forgot to during the conversation.

Carlie Littlefield is 14 points away from 1,000 for her career.

TB should have included that in the podcast. If Littlefield gets her 14 points this weekend, he'll definitely mention it next week.

Either way, it's a huge accomplishment for the junior point guard from Iowa who was a first-team All-Ivy League selection a year ago. You don't necessarily think offense first for Littlefield, whose all-around game is so strong and whose tenacity has always been what has defined her.

Closing in on 1,000 points by the end of her junior year suggests someone who knows how to score, of course.

In some ways, Littlefield reminds TB of Sydney Johnson, the 1997 Ivy League Player of the Year (and now doing a really good job as an ESPN commentator). Had there been an Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year Award back then, Johnson would have won a few of them.

Still, he is also a 1,000-point scorer (1,044, to be exact). At least that's what TB thinks off the top of his head. Let him go check ...

... Yup. 1,044. Why does TB remember that?

Anyway, if you look at the Princeton record book, you'll see that Johnson finished with one more point than Amir Bell did. He's another player in the Littlefield mode - all-around players who are much more than just whatever offensive numbers they put up but who nevertheless reached 1,000 career points.

Actually, you figure Littlefield will get way past just 1,000, with one year to go.

As TB wrote yesterday, this is a big weekend in basketball for the men and women, though next weekend would seem to be bigger at this point, as both teams will be in the Ivy League tournament, playing for automatic NCAA tournament bids.

Speaking of playing for automatic NCAA tournament bids, there's the wrestling team this weekend.

The Tigers, who won the Ivy League championship this year, will be competing for 44 automatic NCAA tournament bids at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association tournament. The event will be held at Lehigh, who is the defending champion.

In addition to the 44 automatic bids, there will also be at-large bids awarded after each conference tournament. 

Princeton has three former champions in its lineup. Patrick Glory was the 2019 103-pound champ as a freshman, and he is currently ranked third nationally at the same weight. Matthew Kolodzik has won two championships at 149, though he didn't win last year. Patrick Brucki won at 197 last year.

Glory and Brucki are top-seeded for the tournament. Kolodzik is the fourth seed at his weight.

Princeton has four other seeded wrestlers, including second-seeded Quincy Monday at 157. There are also two six-seeds (Grant Cuomo at 165, Travis Stefanik at 184) and a seventh-seed (Kevin Parker at 174).

If you want to read some pretty comprehensive previews of the EIWA event, you have two great options - the one HERE and the EIWA one HERE.

The wrestling at Lehigh starts tomorrow at 11, and the finals are Saturday afternoon, all at Lehigh's Stabler Arena.

The wrestling team has already had a magical season, with the Ivy League championship that ended Cornell's 18-year run at the top. Princeton went unbeaten in the Ivy League, and the win over Cornell that clinched it came in front of a huge crowd in Jadwin Gym - and just happened to be the 500th Ivy title for Princeton.

The last few years have seen the Tigers regularly send a large contingent on to the NCAA wrestling championships. This year, the Tigers would love to make a run at the EIWA title along the way, with the top three figured to be Princeton, Cornell and Lehigh in any order.

The NCAA championships will be held in Minneapolis March 19-21.

The Tigers would love to have someone win the big prize there. The road to that best of all possible endings to this dream year begins this weekend at Lehigh. 

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