March Madness: No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson shocks No. 1 Purdue
UMBC has a company.
Fairley Dickinson joined the Retrievers in NCAA tournament history and became the second No. 16 seed to beat the No. 1 in the first round when he defeated Purdue 63–58 on Friday night.
The Knights simply outplayed Purdue in the second half as no one but Zach Edie could do anything for Purdue. And even Eddie had two key losses in the last three minutes.
Sean Moore scored decisive points for FDU by hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:03 left as the 7’4″ Edie approached him. This gave the Knights a 61–56 lead and marked Moore’s ninth straight point for FDU.
Perdue then had the ball with 30 seconds left, but Moore blocked a layup attempt and Fletcher Lauer’s three-pointer with less than 10 seconds left missed the rim.
UMBC – University of Maryland-Baltimore County – became the first No. 16 seed to beat No. 1 in 2018 when he defeated Virginia. And FDU’s frustration may be even greater than UMBC’s. The Retrievers were 20.5 points behind before playing Virginia, and the FDU were 23.5 points behind the Boilermakers.
It is also Purdue’s second consecutive loss in the tournament to a low-seeded team from New Jersey. A year ago The Boilermakers lost to 15th seeded Sweet 16 St. Peters before finishing 3rd a year ago. And the year before, Perdue lost 78-69 to No. 13 in North Texas, finishing in 4th place. The Boilermakers have lost their last three tournament games to low-seeded teams since making the Elite Eight in 2019.
FDU controlled the last eight minutes
UMBC beat Virginia 74–54 in their historic upset. This game was clearly not a breakthrough. But it was also clear that one of the shortest teams in the country couldn’t beat the team with the best big man in the country.
Edie is 10 inches taller than the tallest FDU starter, and Purdue outmaneuvered the Knights by 10 rebounds. try to snatch the ball out of Edie’s hands.
For unexplained reasons, Eddie only had one shot attempt in the last 10 minutes of the game. He finished the game 7 of 11 from the field with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Everyone else on the Purdue roster scored 12-of-41 in total, with the Boilermakers finishing just 36% from the field as a team.
Purdue also found it difficult to convert a three-pointer. The bottom one was 3 of 8 from beyond the arc and the rest of the team was 2 of 18.
The Boilermakers even led with six with 11:41 left. But FDU went on an 8-0 streak to take a two-point lead with 9:59 left, with Purdue never leading in the last eight minutes of the game.
Tobin Anderson made up his mind?
In addition to being the second No. 16 seed to beat No. 1, FDU also became the first team to beat No. 1 after playing in the game earlier in the week. The Knights easily beat the Texas Southerners for the right to play in Purdue, and coach Tobin Anderson exuded confidence after the game.
Anderson told his team after the win that the more he watched Purdue, the more he felt his team could win. After the Purdue win, he said he didn’t intend to perform in front of a wider audience than his team, but his team played with the confidence he showed after that Tuesday night win.
FDU didn’t even win their conference tournament
Most teams in the Fairleigh Dickinson situation need to win their conference tournaments to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. However, FDU got a play-in matchup against Texas Southern by simply making their title game in the conference tournament.
FDU lost to Merrimack 67-66 in the Northeast Conference title game on March 7. But the Knights entered the game knowing they were in the NCAA Tournament thanks to NCAA rules. Merrimack is in his fourth year at the top tier of college basketball since his promotion from Division II. And outdated NCAA rules prevent a team from qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for four seasons. Because Merrimack was ineligible for the tournament, FDU was the recipient of NEC’s only bid.
Conference tournament title or not, FDU’s turnaround from 2021 to 2022 this season has been remarkable. The Knights were just 4-22 last season and parted ways with longtime coach Greg Herenda. The school recruited Anderson from St. Thomas Aquinas Division II and the Knights went 20–15 in the regular season.
Anderson also brought a lot of transfers with him, and they were different from Purdue. Moore, Demeter Roberts and Grant Singleton played for Anderson at the Aquinas and moved with him to FDU. Moore had 12 points and five rebounds, while Roberts hit two free throws from a miss from Lauer to freeze the game.