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No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson upset Purdue in the NCAA Tournament

Fairleigh Dickinson became just the second No. 16 seed in history to win an NCAA Tournament game, a stunning 63-58 victory over top-seeded Sean Moore by 19 points and a relentless, hustling defense Friday night.

The shortest team in the tourney, the Knights (21-15) were never intimidated by 7-foot-4 All-America center Jack Eddy from the start. FDU’s players were faster and more organized than the Big Ten champion Boilermakers (29-6).

Five years ago, UMBC showed the way After countless close calls over the years, the first 16-over-1 win over Virginia for the little boys. Still, No. 16 had a 1-150 record before FDU’s upset.

Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Purdue

Joe Munden Jr. #1 of the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights celebrates after defeating the Purdue Boilermakers 63-58 in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on March 17, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio.

Dylan Buell / Getty Images

After the final horn, FDU’s players swarmed each other on the Nationwide Arena floor, where Memphis and Florida Atlantic fans who had been waiting for the final game of the day joined forces to cheer the Knights on in the final, frantic minutes.

The Knights now meet the Memphis-FAU winner on Sunday with a Sweet 16 berth and a trip next week to play at New York’s Madison Square Garden — just a short drive from the private school’s campus in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Fairleigh Dickinson didn’t even win the Northeast Conference tournament, falling by one point in the title game to Merrimack, which didn’t make the NCAA tournament because of an NCAA rule barring it from the postseason while it was still completing its four. Year Change from Section II.

“The more I watch Purdue, the more I think we can beat them,” Fairleigh Dickinson head coach Tobin Anderson said Wednesday night after his team beat Texas Southern 84-61 in the first four to match up with Purdue.

“The more I see Purdue, the more I think we can beat them.”

Two days ago, FDU head coach Tobin Anderson talked about tonight’s win 🔥pic.twitter.com/4koDOJrlj3

— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 18, 2023

FDU held Purdue scoreless for more than 5 1/2 minutes down the stretch and went ahead by five on Moore’s 3-pointer with 1:03 left. The Knights held on from there, becoming a second straight double-digit seed to send the Boilermakers home. Purdue was a 3 seed last year when it lost to 15 seed St. Peter in the Sweet 16.

ESPN also noted that Fairleigh Dickinson’s win means nearly 20 million brackets have been filled for its annual tournament challenge, leaving zero perfect brackets in play.

The No. 16 seed now has a record of 2-150 in the tournament, according to CBS Sports.

“It’s unbelievable, we shocked the world,” a stunned Anderson said on court after the game.

This interview with Tobin Anderson is everything ❤️ @FDUKnightsMBB

“It’s unbelievable. We shocked the world!” pic.twitter.com/9B7sUPzdbH

— CBS Sports College Basketball 🏀 (@CBSSportsCBB) March 18, 2023

It was Anderson’s first season at the school, and after landing the job in May, he had a practice the first night so he knew what to do with a team that had the program’s second-worst record at 58. History of the year.

That wasn’t much, so he brought three players — 5-foot-8 Demetrius Roberts, Grant Singleton and Moore — with him from Division II power St. Thomas Aquinas.

Turns out, they’re monster slayers.

And it was the Boilermakers, not the undersized Knights, who were scrambling from the opening tip.

Despite being 240 miles from West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue may have felt like their team had a home-court advantage with Fairleigh Dickinson on the floor and a raucous group of Boilermakers fans in the stands.

However, when the Knights’ Joe Munden drained a step-back 3-pointer in the first half, “FDU!” Chants rose inside the arena and it was clear that this small group was dreaming big.

With no player on his roster taller than 6-foot-6, Fairleigh Dickinson needed two players to guard Eddie at times — one in front and one behind — and he missed his first three shots before diving.

Eddy showed some frustration and at one point told an officer, “Sir, he’s holding my left arm.”

Just being in the tourney was quite an accomplishment for FDU, which went 4-22 a year ago.

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