College Basketball

Fairleigh Dickinson upsets Purdue as second 16 seed to defeat 1 seed in men’s NCAA Tournament history

gettyimages 1474247608 1

gettyimages 1474247608 1

No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson delivered a modern-day David vs. Goliath story Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, becoming the second No. 16 seed in March Madness history to defeat a No. 1 seed in a 63-58 shocker over No. 1 seed Purdue in the East Region. 

FDU, the smallest team in college basketball, downed the Boilermakers, the largest team in the sport, by raining down 3-pointers, badgering Purdue big man Zach Edey and running the tempo up to pull-off the historic upset.

No. 16 seeds were previously 1-147 all-time in first-round matchups against No. 1 seeds coming into this year’s tournament and 1-150 entering Friday after the other three No. 1 seeds in this year’s bracket all advanced into Round 2 on Thursday. The only other No. 16 seed in tournament history to take down a No. 1 seed came in 2018 when No. 16 seed UMBC defeated No. 1 overall seed Virginia as a 20.5-point underdog, which set the bar FDU, a 23.5-point underdog, just cleared for the largest upset in tournament history.

Purdue has played tight games and largely prevailed much of the season — it had a 10-2 record in games decided by five points or fewer coming into the tournament — but FDU gave it no chance to improve upon that record.  FDU led for more than 25 minutes of game time and stifled the Boilermakers defensively, holding them to just eight points over the final eight minutes of game action.

The Knights’ victory comes one day after the five-year anniversary of UMBC’s win over Virginia.

This is the second time in the NCAA Tournament that multiple teams seeded No. 2 or better have been bounced in the opening round after No. 2 seed Arizona also bowed out in Round 1 earlier in the week. Two No. 2 seeds — Duke and Missouri — were bounced the same day in 2012.

Fairleigh Dickinson was only in the NCAA Tournament on a technicality. The Knights lost to Merrimack in the NEC Tournament title game, but because Merrimack is still in the midst of transitioning to Division I, it was ineligible for the NCAA Tournament. Therefore, the NEC’s automatic bid went to the Knights. Fairleigh Dickinson was the No. 68 seed in the 68-team field and had to defeat Texas Southern in the First Four just to advance and play the Boilermakers in the first round.

“We have faith in what we do and our guys are so tough and so competitive,” FDU coach Tobin Anderson said.. “I love our guys. They’re tough, they’re gritty, they played their tails off. We just shocked the world.”

Anderson earlier in the week in a locker room speech went viral after saying that after the more he watched Purdue on tape, the more convinced he was that his FDU team could beat them. The call proved prophetic Friday night, and Anderson after the game expressed remorse for the interaction – saying it was the right message but the wrong audience.

“The speech got overblown, you know,” he said. “I’ll do a little better job in this locker room speech than the last one.”  

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Publish Date:2023-03-18 09:48:49

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