Breaking down the historic upset of No. 16 FDU over No. 1 Purdue

It took 33 years for a 16-seed to knock off a 1-seed: when UMBC beat Virginia within the 2018 NCAA match. It solely took 5 years for a second 16-seed to do it, with Fairleigh Dickinson beautiful the nation by beating Purdue within the first spherical on Friday night time, 63-58.

While UMBC made historical past as the primary 16-seed to beat a 1-seed, Fairleigh Dickinson took it one step additional: the Knights are the primary 16-seed from the First Four to do it.

After beating Texas Southern in Wednesday’s First Four matchup, head coach Tobin Anderson made a pronouncement that set the stage for Friday’s monumental upset.

“The more I watch Purdue, the more I think we can beat them,” he instructed his group within the locker room.

So how did the Knights do it? And the place does this sport rank in historical past? ESPN’s males’s faculty basketball consultants Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway, Joe Lunardi and Myron Medcalf break all of it down. — Jeff Borzello

Were does this upset rank all time?

Myron Medcalf: Well, it is the second 16-seed to ever beat a 1-seed. So it is no decrease than second. The Virginia group UMBC defeated was extra distinguished and proficient. A 12 months later, the Cavs received the nationwide title.

There have been actually Purdue doubters who questioned if Zach Edey had the assist to advance to the Final Four. But Fairleigh Dickinson is No. 298 on KenPom proper now. No. 298. This group has 12 losses to sub-200 KenPom groups. Twelve. And the Knights are solely right here as a result of Merrimack was ineligible for the postseason on account of its transition to Division I athletics.

When you issue all of that in, and also you pit them in opposition to a group with the man who’s going to be the unanimous Wooden Award winner … This may be the best upset we have ever seen. Wow.

John Gasaway: This is the large one. Sure, fellow No. 16 seed UMBC beat Virginia by 20 in 2018. But take a look at the circumstances in 2023. The Knights misplaced the NEC title sport to Merrimack. They entered the sport under Louisville at KenPom. On paper, this is among the weakest groups we have seen within the NCAA match in years. And, oh, by the best way, they simply made historical past. Forget the paper! Well accomplished, FDU!

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Jeff Borzello: Fairleigh Dickinson’s path to this sport differentiates it. The Knights have been one of many worst groups in faculty basketball final season, ending 4-22 total and rating No. 345 at KenPom to finish the 2021-22 season. Tobin Anderson, a coach with zero Division I expertise, was employed in May. Ten months later, he has guided Fairleigh Dickinson to this second. This is a group that did not win both the common season championship or the convention match within the NEC, the worst convention within the nation. The Knights needed to get by means of the First Four simply to get to this sport. It’s an unimaginable story, and a good larger upset than UMBC’s.

Joe Lunardi: This is nearer to Chaminade over UVa and Ralph Sampson than UMBC over Virginia in 2018. All are historic; that is inconceivable. Specifically, UMBC was not group quantity 68 on the seed record (however nearer to a 15-seed total). My lingering query: How did FDU lose 15 instances?

FDU is the shortest group within the match. Why did Purdue, and Zach Edey, wrestle a lot?

Borzello: Purdue was dreadful from 3-point vary, to place it merely. Edey was superb. He had 21 factors and 15 rebounds, proper round his season averages. But his supporting forged struggled on the flawed time. They did not get him the ball when it mattered, principally as a result of they could not get into their offense in opposition to FDU’s protection. Fletcher Loyer made three 3s, however Braden Smith and Mason Gillis mixed to shoot 2-for-13 from behind the arc. As a group, the Boilermakers shot 19.2% from 3. They turned it over 16 instances. FDU landed the primary punch, put Purdue on its heels and by no means let the Boilermakers get comfy.

Medcalf: We must outline “struggle” right here. Edey nonetheless completed with 21 factors on a 7-for-11 outing. What FDU did so properly? They restricted his touches. They despatched a number of our bodies at him each time he needed the ball, wore him down and dared his group to beat them. Guess what? Everybody not named Zach Edey mixed to complete 12-for-42 for Purdue. That’s an issue. It was a superb gamble by Tobin Anderson. He did not belief the opposite guys to execute in that second with Edey dealing with all that stress. And it labored.

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Gasaway: Your top would not enable you if you happen to’re capturing 19% in your 3s and committing seven extra turnovers than the opponent. Edey was his standard self. Purdue as a group was tried and located wanting on one unimaginable night.

Lunardi: Why? Because the NCAA match is the last word expression of what the statisticians name “small sample size.” FDU would by no means win a best-of-seven in opposition to any of the highest groups within the bracket, however the Knights did not must. They solely needed to win 40 minutes.

How a lot additional can FDU go on this match?

Gasaway: Here’s your bulletin board materials, Knights! FDU will not be going a lot additional on this bracket. The Knights’ subsequent sport will likely be in opposition to an opponent assured to be older, extra skilled and extra versatile than the No. 1 seed that FDU simply defeated. But who is aware of? How many brackets had the Knights making it this far?

Borzello: I had Memphis beating Purdue within the second spherical earlier than the NCAA match, so I did not have a ton of religion within the Boilermakers making a deep run this month. But it isn’t as if the Tigers have been extremely constant this season. And Memphis’ first-round opponent, FAU, would not have an enormous athleticism and measurement benefit. Fairleigh Dickinson will likely be an infinite underdog no matter opponent — and I’ll seemingly choose in opposition to them once more! — however the Knights are taking part in with loads of confidence, they’re going to have momentum. And the complete enviornment will likely be behind them.

Medcalf: Somewhere, Penny Hardaway might be dancing proper now. FDU goes to play the precise reverse of Purdue if the Tigers can advance to the second spherical. The pace Kendric Davis and Co. make use of is one few groups can deal with. But this may be it for FDU even when Memphis fails to advance.

And whether it is, who cares? Every member of that group, all the way down to the parents on the coaching employees and anybody affiliated with that group, will likely be considered legends for the remainder of their lives and past. Hard to examine FDU discovering a technique to regular itself earlier than the following spherical, although. After UMBC beat Virginia by 20 factors in 2018, it scored simply 43 factors in a loss to Kansas State within the second spherical.

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Lunardi: All I can consider is the potential for FDU in opposition to FAU and the Knights advancing by advantage of a typo. FDU followers must be within the “Why not?” stage by now, and perhaps we should always be a part of them.

We’ve now seen three main groups get taken down. What does this say about this match to you?

Lunardi: There are 67 video games within the NCAA match. I believe in most 67-game samples of the common season, we might discover a few heavy underdog victories. Add in impartial courts, tight officiating and the stress of one-and-one and all of it turns into a flamable, pleasant combine.

Gasaway: This match is a superb generator of thrilling and random patterns yearly. That doesn’t suggest “anything can happen.” Strictly talking, the champion remains to be extremely more likely to come from a comparatively small variety of groups. But what we study each single March with out exception is that completely any group can lose. Purdue realized it in 2023.

Borzello: It’s the NCAA match! This is what occurs. More so than simply three high-major applications shedding within the first spherical to this point, it is one 1-seed and one 2-seed. These are seeds that was once virtually resistant to first-round upsets. A 1-seed by no means misplaced till 2018. A 2-seed was clearly much less uncommon, however now it is occurred six instances within the final three NCAA tournaments. There was parity on the high of the game all season, and it is displaying itself this week.

Medcalf: That it is probably the most stunning sporting occasion on this planet and it shouldn’t be expanded. It’s excellent the place it’s. You solely must be nice for one afternoon/night. And in case you are, magic can occur. But it additionally speaks to the parity inside the panorama this season. I by no means thought we had an ideal group this season. I do not assume we’ve got a group that will beat final 12 months’s Kansas group. Still, these upsets have been beautiful. It speaks to the facility of the NCAA match.