Fairleigh Dickinson Wasn’t Imagined to Be in NCAA Event


New Jersey has put its stamp on March.

Fairleigh Dickinson College, a non-public commuter college close to the George Washington Bridge in Teaneck, N.J., on Friday grew to become simply the second No. 16-seed in historical past to win a sport within the males’s NCAA event. The Knights knocked off the No. 1-seed Purdue Boilermakers, 63-58 on Friday in Columbus, Ohio. Fairleigh Dickinson’s victory comes 5 years after No. 16 UMBC dominated the highest general seed within the event, Virginia, 74-54. Earlier than Friday, No. 16 seeds have been 1-150 all-time towards top-seeded groups because the males’s area expanded to 64 groups in 1985.

The state of New Jersey is continuous its magical NCAA event run these previous few years. A season in the past St. Peter’s, one other commuter college within the northern a part of the state, made the Elite Eight—the primary No. 15-seed to take action—earlier than shedding to North Carolina. (In addition they managed to knock No. 3-seed Purdue out of the event.) On Thursday, No. 15 Princeton shocked Arizona, 55-51, in a first-round upset.

And now, FDU joins the Tigers because the toasts of the Backyard State.

Say what you’ll concerning the NCAA, nevertheless it usually seeds its males’s basketball event properly. The dominance of the No. 1-seeds over the previous 38 years bears that out. So when a crew like FDU rises to the event, it counts as a monumental second in faculty basketball—and in all sports activities.

Fairleigh Dickinson—which has about 6,500 college students on its most important campus—has the shortest crew in Division 1 basketball, with its gamers averaging 6’1” in top. Purdue’s All-American middle, 7-foot-Four Zach Edey, had a positive sport—scoring 24 factors and grabbing 15-rebounds—however he turned the ball over late within the sport, with underneath two minutes left, after three Knights collapsed on him within the put up.

READ MORE: How Howard College Lastly Made It Again to March Insanity

FDU’s Sean Moore, a Columbus native, scored a layup to present FDU a five-point lead, 58-53. Moore additionally nailed an enormous straight-away three pointer on the subsequent possession. Purdue had a chance to tie the sport a late-three pointer, however Fletcher Lloyd threw up an air-ball from the nook, after being contested by an FDU defender. Demetre Robbins, who’s 5’8”, grabbed the game-sealing rebound.

The Knights refused to be intimidated by Purdue’s measurement and pedigree. A zone protection from the smaller FDU crew appeared to confound Purdue’s gamers. The Boilermakers, regardless of being coached by the seasoned Matt Painter, have been out of rhythm, as they appeared to spend so much of time wanting into Edey, who was double and triple-teamed. They’d little to know move. Purdue, regardless of usually suiting up a few of the top-ranked groups within the nation over the previous 4 many years, hasn’t made a Last 4 since 1980.

A yr in the past, FDU coach Tobin Anderson was teaching at tiny St. Thomas Aquinas School, in Division II, a 2,000-student college in New York’s Rockland County. Moore was one his gamers there. Fairleigh Dickinson completed final season 4-22, fired coach Greg Hernenda, and took an opportunity on Anderson. Moore got here with him. One last twist: FDU wasn’t even imagined to be within the event; the Knights misplaced to Merrimack School within the Northeast Convention Event on March 7. However Merrimack isn’t eligible to play within the NCAA event this yr, so FDU received a shot.

Now, Moore and Anderson are each making ready for a second spherical March Insanity sport towards the winner of Memphis and FAU.

Fairleigh Dickinson performs on. It’s the great thing about March.

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Write to Sean Gregory at sean.gregory@time.com.

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