Fairleigh Dickinson Stuns No. 1 Seed Purdue In March Madness

The Knights outplayed Big Ten champion Boilermakers without fear.


A behemoth was brought down by Fairleigh Dickinson.

The small, underdog Knights defeated top-seeded Purdue 63-58 on Friday night, pulling off one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history and becoming the second No. 16 seed to triumph in a match during March Madness.

The Knights (21-15), the smallest of the 363 Division I teams in the nation, had no qualms about crowding 7-foot-4 All-America center Zach Edey from the get-go and outplayed the Big Ten champion Boilermakers (29-6).

According to FDU coach Tobin Anderson, if they played us 100 times, they would likely defeat us 99 times. “We had one victory after playing them 100 times. But tonight was the one where we had to be distinctive and unconventional. We have to make things difficult for them and just stand out.

Sean Moore scored 19 points to lead FDU and a tenacious defensive charge – the Knights pressured most of the game — by a club that suddenly has everyone’s attention.

Five years ago, UMBC blazed the way for the little people by crushing Virginia in the first 16-over-1 victory after multiple close calls over the years. But, before to FDU’s shocking victory, No. 16s had a 1-150 record against No. 1s and were 1-151 overall.

At the final horn, FDU players surrounded one another on the floor of Nationwide Arena, where the supporters from Florida Atlantic and Memphis who had come to see the day’s last game combined to support the Knights in the tense closing minutes.

The Sweet 16 matchup between the Knights and FAU, which defeated Memphis 66-65, will take place on Sunday. The winner will go to Madison Square Garden in New York City the following week.

Moore remarked, “Dude, I can’t even understand it. “At the moment, I’m still in shock. It’s really unbelievable. It’s absurd. Yet it feels wonderful.

Due to an NCAA rule that prevents teams from playing in the postseason while they are still completing their four-year transition from Division II, Merrimack won the Northeast Conference Tournament by a single point over Fairleigh Dickinson. Merrimack was also unable to compete in the NCAA Tournament because of this.

With 1:03 remaining, FDU increased its lead to five points after holding Purdue scoreless for more than 5 1/2 minutes. Moore, a guard from a suburb of Columbus, hit a 3-pointer to give FDU the lead.

From that point on, the Knights hung on, earning the third consecutive double-digit seed to eliminate the Boilermakers. Purdue was a No. 3 seed when it lost to No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s, another small New Jersey school, in the Sweet 16 last year. In 2021, the Boilermakers were eliminated by 13th-seeded North Texas.

Demetre Roberts of FDU, who is 20 inches shorter than Edey, stated that all that was required of them was to enter the match and throw punches. “We anticipated numerous punches from them. Just retort with a punch. We were aware of the nature of the game.

In what might have been his final collegiate game, Edey finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds, but the Knights were excellent against him in the second half. In the final nine minutes, Edey did not try a shot, and whenever he touched the ball, FDU players surrounded him.

They frequently had one man sitting in my lap and one man guarding from behind, according to Edey. “They were full fronting the entire game. made catching fish extremely difficult. They deserve praise; they arrived with a solid game plan. And they did a great job of executing it.

Edey squeezed the shoulder straps on his jersey and went sternly into Purdue’s locker room after the team’s final attempt failed and the season ended.

The junior center could be selected in the NBA lottery, but the disappointment of this loss might persuade Edey to stay for another season.

When questioned about his future, Edey responded, “I have no view on that.”I’ll decide going forward,” she said.

The Knights’ two previous NCAA Tournament victories, including this year’s 84-61 rout of Texas Southern, were in the First Four. Anderson told his team after the game that he thought they could defeat Edey and company.

With a camera in the locker room, Anderson stated, “The more I see Purdue, the more I think we can beat them.

The statements, which turned out to be prescient, offended some of Purdue’s players, who claimed they felt insulted.

Anderson remarked, “That was the correct message, wrong audience. Without the camera present, I would have said that. I had no intention of upsetting Purdue. It was not at all the plan. Yet, it must be the message. To win the following game is our goal. We simply cannot be content to remain here.

And the boys have to have faith.

FDU, which finished 4-22 the year before and has already won two NCAA tournament games in as many days, considered just making the tournament to be quite an accomplishment.

With the team having the second-worst record in the program’s 58-year history, Anderson’s first season at the school began with a practice he held the first night after accepting the position in May.

It wasn’t much, but he brought three players from Division II power St. Thomas Aquinas with him: Roberts, Grant Singleton, and Moore.

They are enormous slayers, it turns out.

The shortest team in the nation, according to Anderson. “But we gave Eddie (Edey) a bad feeling. And the creations he produced were not simple baskets. He probably never felt really at ease. And that was a truly outstanding team effort.

“In the paint, we were sagging. We eliminated specific shooters. Instead of giving them threes, let’s force them to make threes. Just an amazing team effort.

With 3 of 15 made in the second half, Purdue finished 5 of 26 from beyond the arc.

The tiny Knights weren’t the ones scurrying from the start; it was the Boilermakers.

With a noisy crowd of Boilermakers supporters giving their side what felt like a home-court advantage despite being 240 miles from West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue may have had an advantage over Fairleigh Dickinson on the court and in the seats.

Yet when Joe Munden of the Knights made a step-back 3-pointer in the first half, “F-D-U!” chants erupted inside the arena, making it clear that this little squad had huge ambitions.

Edey missed his first three shots before a dunk because Fairleigh Dickinson frequently needed two players to guard him because none of its players were taller than 6-6.

Edey expressed considerable annoyance and at one point informed a representative, “Sir, he’s holding my left arm.”

Eventually, Purdue found its rhythm and scored 11 straight points, including four free throws from Edey, to lead 24-19. Although the Knights answered with their own surge, Heru Bligen’s basket on a steal helped FDU lead 32-31 at the half.

Roberts scored a total of 12 points and is a 6-4 forward. For FDU, Cameron Tweedy scored 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

Written by Muhammad Qasim