The Princeton men's lacrosse team sweated out a brutal six hours between its 15-7 loss to Yale in the Ivy League tournament final and the announcement of the NCAA tournament pairings, to the point where the team decided not to get together to watch the show because of the potential for disappointment.
And then it all changed to elation, when the Tigers found out that they'd be playing at fifth-seeded Virginia Sunday at 1 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
"All afternoon, I thought the tea leaves didn't look like they'd lead into the tournament," says Bates, who watched the show alone at home with his son Nick. "I look at it and I'm surprised. I'm shocked actually. They didn't want to get together and watch, and I was just waiting and hoping."
The first matchup announced was Loyola, the top seed, against Canisius. The second was Denver against No. 8 North Carolina - and it appeared that the addition of Denver might have meant Princeton was doomed.
Instead, the Virginia-Princeton matchup was revealed next. Once it was, everything changed in a blink.
"In my mind, we can beat anyone," says Bates. "I can't wait to see our team again and get fired up and get going. I have faith that we are one of the best teams in the country."
The task in the first round won't be easy, as Virginia is the defending champion. The Cavaliers are 11-3 and are led by Steele Stanwick, the 2011 Tewaaraton Trophy winner and the all-time leader in points scored at UVa.
Still, Princeton was flying high prior to Sunday's game against Yale, who will play Notre Dame in the first round. The winner of the Princeton-UVa game will then play the winner of the Notre Dame-Yale game in the quarterfinals.
Princeton is 11-4 overall and won the Ivy League championship with a perfect 6-0 league record.
The 2012 NCAA Division I lacrosse tournament field:
No. 1 Loyola vs. Canisius
No. 8 North Carolina vs. Denver
No. 5 Virginia vs. Princeton
No. 4 Notre Dame vs. Yale
No. 2 Johns Hopkins vs. Stony Brook
No. 7 Lehigh vs. Maryland
No. 3 Duke vs. Syracuse
No. 6 UMass vs. Colgate