Princeton’s NCAA Run Gets Bogle Feeling Like a Sophomore at 81

John Bogle, a 1951 Princeton University graduate and founder of Vanguard Group Inc., says he never underestimates his alma mater, even today when the basketball team takes on the seven-time national champion University of Kentucky.

“I don’t think it’s likely they’ll win, but is it possible? Of course, anything is possible,” Bogle, 81, said in a telephone interview from his home in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. “I have never sold Princeton short, and I never will.”

Princeton, making its first appearance in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament since 2004, is a 13.5-point underdog against the Wildcats in an East Regional game in Tampa, Florida. The full tournament begins today after four early games the past two days.

For most of Princeton’s players, a future in finance is more likely than one in the National Basketball Association. Seniors Dan Mavraides, 22, an economics major, and Kareem Maddox, 21, an English major, took steps toward their off-court careers last summer, even though both are keeping an eye on basketball.

Mavraides, 22, did an internship last year at San Francisco startup PeerPong Inc., a website that finds experts to answer readers’ questions. Maddox, 21, who worked at Ariel Investments, LLC, in Chicago last summer, said he envisions a career in sales and trading or private wealth management.

“Both of those jobs involve a lot of time behind a desk, so I’m going to see if I can play overseas first,” Maddox said in an interview yesterday in the Princeton locker room. “You’re only young once. And it’s hard to get a job right now (on Wall Street).”

Maddox Brings Books

Maddox, a 6-foot-8 (2.03 meter) forward who led Princeton in scoring this season by averaging 13.9 points while coming off the bench in 27 of the team’s 31 games, said he brought seven books to Tampa.

Mavraides, the team’s captain, is taking a break from thesis writing to play in the NCAA tournament. He’s writing about the role of technology in the business of the NBA and he brought a book on sports business with him.

“I thought about applying to Goldman, places like that, but I’m going to try to play overseas,” the 6-foot-4 guard said in a locker room interview. “When we go home, hopefully Sunday, we’ll go straight to the library. I have a thesis to finish.”

If the Tigers (25-6) upset Kentucky (25-8), they’ll move on to a Round of 32 game two days later. Today’s schedule comprises four games each in Tampa, Washington, Denver and Tucson, Arizona. There will be 16 more games tomorrow.

No. 1 Seeds

Pittsburgh, one of four regional No. 1 seeds, plays today against the University of North Carolina-Asheville in Washington. The other No. 1 seeds -- Duke, Ohio State and Kansas -- have their opening games tomorrow.

Duke (30-4), the defending national champion, will be trying to win a fifth title under coach Mike Krzyzewski. Freshman point guard Kyrie Irving, who had been the Blue Devils’ leading scorer with 17.4 points per game, might return for the first time since injuring a toe on Dec. 4.

Ohio State (32-2), the tournament’s overall top seed, will be seeking its second national title. The Buckeyes, who have advanced to the national semifinals 10 times, were led by future Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famers Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek and Bob Knight to their only title in 1960.

Princeton defeated Harvard University in a playoff to clinch the Ivy League’s automatic berth in the 68-team NCAA tournament after the schools tied for the conference championship with 12-2 records.

Bill Bradley’s Team

The Tigers are making their 24th appearance in the NCAA tournament. They reached the national semifinals in 1965, led by Hall of Fame member Bill Bradley, who went on to an NBA championship with the New York Knicks and three terms as a U.S. senator from New Jersey.

Princeton’s alumni include two U.S. presidents; Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Jeffrey Bezos, founder of Inc.

Bogle, who ran the ticket office at Princeton’s Dillon Gym after classes, said he will be following the game at home as the Tigers face Kentucky. He watched on his computer on March 12 as Princeton topped Harvard.

“That has to be one of the greatest games in Princeton’s history,” Bogle said. “I felt like a little sophomore again. Any time you have an occasion to relive your youth when you’re 81 years old, take it.”

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