For college basketball fans, March is a magical time of year, and Princeton could have two reasons to celebrate this month, if both the men’s and women’s basketball teams reach the postseason. In honor of Tiger hoops teams present and past, we flipped through the archives to find PAW covers that celebrated great seasons on the hardwood.
Click any photo below to view as a slide show.
1964-65: Led by All-American Bill Bradley ’65, Princeton reaches unprecedented heights with a trip to the NCAA Final Four in Portland, Ore. After falling to Michigan in the semifinals, the Tigers put on a memorable performance in the consolation game. Bradley hits 22 of 29 shots from the field and 14 of 15 from the foul line to finish with 58 points – still a Final Four record. PAW’s cover showed coach Butch Van Breda Kolff ’45 congratulating Bradley as he left the floor for the last time as a Tiger.
Read more: Bill Bradley’s farewell
1966-67: Van Breda Kolff’s last year with the Tigers brought more success – a 23-2 regular season, followed by a win over West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament’s opening round. But Princeton’s dreams of another deep postseason run ended in overtime against North Carolina. The Tarheels took an early lead, and without the benefit of the shot clock, the Tigers were forced to foul to regain possession. North Carolina reached the Final Four for the first time under its young coach, Dean Smith.
1974-75: When Penn beats out Princeton for the Ivy League title, that usually translates to March misery for Tiger fans. But while the Quakers made an early exit in the NCAA Tournament, Princeton took the NIT by storm. In the tournament semifinals, coach Pete Carril’s Tigers edged Oregon, led by former Penn coach Dick Harter. In the final game, Princeton topped Providence 86-67, aided by a 23-point outburst from Tim Van Blommesteyn ’75, who shared PAW’s cover with Brien O’Neill ’75.
Read more: ‘The smart shall take from the strong’
1995-96: If you’re looking for the most eventful week in Princeton basketball history, it would be hard to argue against the one that started March 9, 1996. Princeton beats Penn in overtime to win the Ivy’s NCAA Tournament bid. Carril announces his retirement after nearly three decades at the helm. Gabe Lewullis ’99 makes a backdoor layup to beat defending national champion UCLA. The ’96 Tigers may not have been Carril’s greatest team (21-6 in the regular season, 12-2 against Ivies), but they certainly made a lasting impression in March.
Read more: Ecstasy in Indy
1997-98: The headline that accompanied Mitch Henderson ’98’s photo on PAW’s March 25, 1998 cover – 26-1 – was Princeton’s regular season record. The lone loss came at North Carolina, and by the time the NCAA Tournament arrived, Princeton had earned top-10 rankings in both of the major national polls. The Tigers put their 19-game winning streak on the line against UNLV in the opening round and won, 69-57. In round two, they were tied with Michigan State with two minutes remaining, but the Spartans prevailed, 63-56. In addition to raising the profile of Ivy basketball, Princeton set a school record for most wins in a season.