Fairleigh Dickinson University achieved a feat on Friday that has only been done once before.
The Knights, who are a 16-seed, upset No. 1 seed Purdue University 63-58 to advance to the second round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Down three points with less than ten seconds left, Purdue heaved up a three-point shot but missed the opportunity to tie. The Knights then made two free throws at the opposite end.
This is the second time in NCAA men’s tournament history that a No. 16 seed defeated a No. 1 seed. In 2018, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County became the first to complete the feat over the Virginia Cavaliers.
Knights head coach Tobin Anderson expressed praise for his team’s work ethic on the court following the win.
“We just have faith in what we do and our guys are so tough and competitive,” Anderson told the TNT broadcast. “I love our guys. They’re tough. They’re great. They played their tails off. That’s an unbelievable win. It’s unbelievable. We shocked the world.”
As Fairleigh Dickinson players celebrated the historic feat together on the court, Purdue players and fans at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, looked on in complete shock.
Boilermakers big man Zach Edey, who was earlier named one of the semifinalists for the Naismith Player of the Year, finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds in the loss.
Fairleigh Dickinson – located in northern New Jersey – made the tournament this year after a turnaround season in which they finished with a 20-15 record. Last season, FDU finished with a measly 4-22 record.
The 15-win increase over last season was the second-best improvement in Division I men’s basketball, following Southern Mississippi.
The Knights are the second Northeast Conference school ever to advance to the next round in NCAA tournament history. Iona did it in 1980 – but the school’s victory was later vacated.
FDU will next play Sunday, facing the winner of the game between Memphis and Florida Atlantic.
A stunning win
Fairleigh Dickinson’s win on Friday was not something many people saw coming.
Only 2.36% of completed Men’s Bracket Challenge Game entries predicted an FDU win over Purdue, the second-lowest percentage out of every team in the field, according to NCAA. The lowest overall win prediction was for No. 16 Northern Kentucky at 2.14%.
The shocking win also means that the last hopes of anyone completing the practically impossible task of predicting a perfect bracket has been eliminated altogether, the NCAA noted.
FDU guard Demetre Roberts said after the game that his team knew Purdue would be strong, but they were confident in their abilities.
“Our job is to come in the game and throw a punch. We knew they were going to throw multiple punches, just throw a punch back. We knew what type of game this was… we showed why we belong here. Credit to Purdue, but we did what we had to do and know we’re on to the next one,” Roberts said.
Last year, another New Jersey school upset Purdue in a historic win. Jersey City’s Saint Peter’s University became the first No. 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight after it beat Purdue, then a No. 3 seed, in March 2022.