It’s already been a special season for the Tigers, who became the first Ivy League team to make the Top 25 when they were 24th in the final poll of the season released Monday. Princeton’s seeding is the best for an Ivy League school and the Tigers hope to end a 14-year drought for the conference in the NCAAs.
“This team has had quite a ride this year, a lot of firsts,” Princeton coach Courtney Banghart said. “Most of their goals were met - win the Ivies, go undefeated in the league, lose no more than four games, get in the Top 25, get a high NCAA seed. Now we have one left, get a postseason win.”
Princeton (24-4) was missing Ivy League player of the year Niveen Rasheed in last year’s loss. Rasheed, who was sidelined with an ACL injury, averaged 16.8 points and 8.8 rebounds this season to lead the team.
“It was the hardest thing to sit on the bench and not contribute and not giving anything,” Rasheed said. “To get back to this moment, this is what we work for all year to play this game. If we lose Saturday our season is done. We want to keep our season going.”
It’s the second straight season that Kansas State (19-13) has made the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats also were sent to Connecticut last year as an eight-seed and lost to Purdue in the opening round. Kansas State also played in Bridgeport in 2008.
“When you think about Connecticut, you think about collegiate women’s basketball,” Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said. “We have a familiarity because we have been twice here and last year in Storrs. We feel almost like this is our destination spot. Some people go to St. Thomas, the Bahamas, we come to Connecticut.”