Fairleigh Dickinson defeats Purdue 63-58, as the Knights become the SECOND No. 16 seed to beat a seeded team
No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson delivered the biggest upset of this year’s tournament on Friday night, defeating top seed Purdue 63-58 in Columbus Ohio.
The Knights led by one at halftime and managed to hold on to their lead, as a 5 1/2 minute drought in the final five minutes doomed the Boilermakers to a first round elimination.
‘We just shocked the world!’ Knights coach Tobin Anderson said after the game.
Sean Moore led the way scoring for Fairleigh Dickinson with 19 points, and the Knights will face the winner of the Memphis-FAU matchup on Sunday.
The smallest team in the tournament, the Knights (21-15) showed no fear attacking Purdue’s 7-foot-4 All-America center Zach Edey early on.
Despite the 21 points, the FDU players were quicker and more composed than the Big Ten champion Boilermakers (29-6).
Five years ago, UMBC led the way for the little guys by overwhelming Virginia in the first 16-on-1 victory after numerous close encounters over the years. Still, the No. 16s had a 1-150 record before the FDU upset.
Fairleigh Dickinson guard Demetre Roberts celebrates in the first half of the game
Fairleigh Dickinson guard Grant Singleton (4) celebrates after a basket against Purdue in the second half.
Fairleigh Dickinson didn’t even win the Northeast Conference Tournament, falling by one point in the title game to Merrimack, who was unable to make the NCAA Tournament due to an NCAA rule that bars him from the postseason because he is still completing his four. Division II transition year.
After the final buzzer, FDU players piled onto the floor of Nationwide Arena, where fans from Memphis and Florida Atlantic joined forces to cheer on the Knights in the final minutes.
Edey was constantly denied the ball down the stretch. He didn’t attempt a shot in the last nine minutes. The junior center is a potential NBA lottery pick, but the bitterness of this loss could influence him to stick around for another year.
The Knights’ previous two NCAA Tournament victories have come in the Top Four, including this year, when they defeated Texas Southern 84-61. After that game, Knights coach Tobin Anderson told his players that he believed they could handle Edey and Co.
“The more I see Purdue, the more I think we can beat them,” Anderson told his players in the locker room.
Some of the Purdue players said they felt disrespected by the comments, which turned out to be prescient.
The Knights will now meet the winner of the Memphis-Florida Atlantic on Sunday for a ticket to the Sweet 16 and a trip to play at Madison Square Garden in New York next week, a short drive from the private school’s campus in Teaneck, New Jersey.