In just the second time in NCAA Tournament history, a No.16 seed (Fairleigh Dickinson Knights) defeated a No.1 seed (Purdue Boilermakers) 63-58 in a stunner that’ll forever be remembered in the storied history of college basketball. The odds were stacked against the Knights as throughout the history of the tournament No.16 seeds have gone 1-150 against No.1 seeds in the opening round.
The only other team to achieve such a historic feat was when the University of Maryland-Baltimore County defeated No.1 seeded Virginia in 2018. The Knights’ first-year head coach Tobin Anderson inspired his players prior to the game stating:
“The more I watch Purdue,” the first-year head coach said after their play-in game in Dayton, Ohio, “the more I think we can beat them…Let’s go shock the world.”
They didn’t just speak on it but manifested it into reality in one of the ultimate upsets in NCAA history. The Knights have the smallest Division I roster in the country with the tallest player being 6-foot-6 forward Ansley Almonor and the average height of the team being 6-foot-1 going against a No.1 ranked Purdue team that went 29-5 this season and boasting the 7-foot-4 Canadian giant and reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Zach Edey who they held to just one shot attempt in the second half despite finishing with 21 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocked shots.
Despite Purdue’s size advantage with Edey in the middle, Purdue only scored 26 points in the paint to the Knights’ 24. The Knights used their speed and agility to swarm Edey and pressure Purdue’s guards all night which led to the Boilermakers committing 16 turnovers that played a part in their demise.
A crucial possession came at the 1:42 mark in the second half when Knights forward Sean Moore swiped the ball away from Edey and converted a layup on the other end off the turnover, putting the Knights up 58-53. Moore continued making impactful plays by hitting a 3-pointer on the top of the key that gave him a career-high 19-points in his hometown Columbus. Not bad to have your best game on the biggest stage in your hometown to make history don’t you say?
Moore spoke of the gameplan against Edey in the second half when he stated:
"You could tell he was exhausted, We just kept attacking him, running him in transition. ... There aren't many teams that can hang with our speed and transition and how we move."
The Boilermakers had a few more chances to try to make a comeback but couldn’t convert as Moore blocked a Braden Smith layup attempt and Fletcher Loyer missed a 3-point attempt that was way off with 5-foot-8 guard Demetre Roberts of the Knights securing the rebound and sealing the victory by making two free throws and getting a key block at the end.
Prior to the game, the Knights closed as a 23.5-point underdog, making it the largest point spread upset since the NCAA expanded to 64 teams in 1985 as Purdue had 10-1 odds to win the whole tournament.
The Knights coach Anderson stated after the game: "I had belief, but I'm not sure I had that much belief."
Anderson now becomes the first rookie coach at any school of the last 30 years to win in the first round of the tournament as a 15 or 16 seed. The Knights will now prepare to play another fellow team that shocked the world Friday in Florida Atlantic University who pulled off a 66-65 upset over the Memphis Tigers.
Nick Boyd’s game-winning layup secures FAU’s first-ever tourney win
The 845 keeps putting on, as another 845 member came up big in the clutch when his team needed him, and that is FAU Owls’ (Florida Atlantic University) guard Nick Boyd who’s become something from nothing and hit the game-winning layup to seal FAU’s first ever tournament win in the program history in a 66-65 classic against the No.8 ranked Memphis Tigers coached by former NBA star Penny Hardaway.
The Tigers seemed to have the game in their grasp as they led 65-64 with just 30 seconds left on the clock, and after a missed FAU layup they could’ve milked the clock to put more pressure on FAU but unfortunately had a controversial turnover that gave FAU another chance to shock the world with many people upset about the missed timeout call for Memphis by the refs after the tie-up off an FAU turnover.
This vanquished an extra possession for the Tigers to try to draw a foul and gave FAU a glimmer of hope that they capitalized on.
The Tigers' two top scorers in guard Kendric Davis and forward DeAndre Williams combined for just 29 points with Williams shooting 2-of-8 from the field and Davis scoring 12 of his 16 points in the first half.
Boyd may have struggled with his offense on 3-for-10 from the field, but he showed his resiliency by putting it on his shoulders to take and make the last shot when it mattered the most that secured his team the victory.
Four other Owls’ had double-digit points such as Alijah Martin (10), Johnell Davis (12), Bryce Greenlee (10), and even sixth man Giancarlo Rosado (15) all displayed a colossal team effort to pull off the massive upset.
No.9 FAU will now play No.16 Fairleigh Dickinson in the Round of 32 on Sunday at 7:45 p.m. ET to see whose cinderella story will keep marching on.