16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson stuns No. 1 Purdue at NCAA tournament
Jake TrotterESPN Employees Writer9:17 PM ET4 Minute Study
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Fairleigh Dickinson coach Tobin Anderson stated he believed the cameras have been off Wednesday in the locker area when he told his players what he genuinely believed about their subsequent opponent.
“The additional I watch Purdue,” the Knights initial-year coach stated to his group shortly following they’d won their NCAA tournament play-in game in Dayton, Ohio, “the additional I feel we can beat them. … Let’s go shock the globe.”
On Friday evening, Fairleigh Dickinson did just that.
In knocking off the Boilermakers 63-58, the Knights became just the second men’s 16-seed ever to beat a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Getting into Friday, 16-seeds have been 1-150 in the opening round. But Fairleigh Dickinson joined the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, which became the initial men’s 16-seed to beat a No. 1 by knocking off Virginia in 2018.
“I wanted our guys to think,” stated Anderson, who noted he did not understand his postgame message Wednesday would seem on the national broadcast following FDU’s play-in win. “We [couldn’t] just be pleased to be right here.”
As it turned out, the Knights are not going anyplace just but.
Regardless of owning the shortest roster in Division I college basketball — with an typical height of six-foot-1 — Fairleigh Dickinson relentlessly attacked the rim, even with Zach Edey, Purdue’s 7-foot-four, All-American center, roaming inside.
Edey scored 21 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked 3 shots. But the Knights countered with 24 points in the paint on the other finish (Purdue had only two additional).
In distinctive strategies all through the evening, FDU turned its apparent size disadvantage into a strength. The speedy Knights swarmed Edey and pressured Purdue’s guards. And they forced the Boilermakers into 16 turnovers, turning these into 15 points the other way.
The final two of these proved to be the most important.
With 1:42 to go, and FDU clinging to a 1-possession lead, Knights forward Sean Moore swiped the ball away from Edey. Off the turnover, Moore got the ball back for a driving layup, placing the Knights up 58-53.
“You could inform he was exhausted,” Moore stated of Edey in the second half. “We just kept attacking him, operating him in transition. … there are not lots of teams that can hang with our speed and transition and how we move.”
On the subsequent possession, Moore nailed a three-pointer from the leading of the crucial, which gave him a profession-higher 19 points in his hometown of Columbus. Right after each baskets, chants of “F-D-U” started pouring down from the Nationwide Arena stands, as even fans of the other teams in Columbus relished in witnessing the upset.
The Boilermakers nevertheless had 1 final likelihood to tie the score in the closing seconds. But Moore blocked Braden Smith’s layup try. And off the inbounds play, a Fletcher Loyer three-point try from the corner missed anything ahead of falling into the arms of the shortest player on the court, five-foot-eight Demetre Roberts, who sealed the victory with two absolutely free throws, then yet another block at the other finish.
“We showed why we belonged right here,” stated Roberts, who scored 12 points to go along with 4 assists.
Roberts was 1 of the players Anderson brought with him from his prior cease, Division II St. Thomas Aquinas College. Beginning guard Grant Singleton, who added 5 assists and 3 steals Friday, is yet another St. Thomas Aquinas transfer.
With each other, they created 3 Sweet 16 appearances in the Division II NCAA tournament and had a 14-five postseason record getting into Friday. Anderson stated that knowledge was a large crucial for FDU, particularly against Purdue’s freshman backcourt duo of Loyer and Smith, who combined to commit ten turnovers.
“It is difficult for freshmen to play against two fifth-year seniors,” Anderson stated. “[Their] two freshman guards are going to be terrific. But I feel obtaining two fifth-year seniors. … we had the benefit there.”
Fairleigh Dickinson closed as a 23.five-point underdog, generating it the biggest upset by point spread considering that the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The Knights have been 16-1 to win Friday’s game straight-up at Caesars Sportsbook, and even larger extended shots at other sportsbooks. Purdue was ten-1 to win the whole tournament.
“We had some choice-generating in there that just wasn’t quite excellent,” Boilermakers coach Matt Painter stated. “And just sort of permitted them to linger and hang in the game.”
Excluding 1st 4 games, Purdue became the initial group to drop consecutive NCAA tournament games against 15-seeds or worse the Boilermakers lost to 15-seed Saint Peter’s in final year’s Sweet 16. Purdue now has six losses against double-digit seeds in the round of 64, the most amongst Major Ten teams.
“I am just nevertheless in shock suitable now,” Moore stated just about 30 minutes following the win, nevertheless drenched in water from the postgame celebration in the locker area. “With a moment like this, not understanding you’d be right here and then you are right here. … perhaps tomorrow I will really feel regular once more.”
In the previous 3 days alone, FDU won half as lots of games as it did all of final season, when it completed four-22.
This year, FDU did not even win its conference tournament — Merrimack defeated FDU 67-66 in the Northeast Conference championship game but remains ineligible for the NCAA tournament as it continues the procedure of reclassifying from Division II. As a result, the conference’s automatic bid went to the Knights.
But FDU coasted in the play-in game on Wednesday in Dayton, dominating Texas Southern 84-61.
Two days later, the Knights created history. And Anderson became the initial coach in his initial season at any college in the previous 30 years to win in the initial round of the tournament as a 15- or 16-seed.
Anderson stated his group was excited to prepare to retain its run alive. Fairleigh Dickinson subsequent plays Sunday against Florida Atlantic, a 66-65 winner more than Memphis.
But initial, Anderson admitted, the Knights had laundry to do. They only packed so significantly for the trip.
“I had belief,” Anderson stated. “But I am not certain I had that significantly belief.”
ESPN Stats & Information and facts contributed to this report.
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