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 evening, 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 informed his workforce within the locker room.

So how did the Knights do it? And the place does this recreation rank in historical past? ESPN’s males’s faculty basketball specialists 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 workforce UMBC defeated was extra distinguished and gifted. A yr later, the Cavs received the nationwide title.

There had 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 workforce 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 towards a workforce 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 have a look at the circumstances in 2023. The Knights misplaced the NEC title recreation to Merrimack. They entered the sport beneath Louisville at KenPom. On paper, this is likely one of the weakest groups we have seen within the NCAA match in years. And, oh, by the best way, they only made historical past. Forget the paper! Well finished, FDU!

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Jeff Borzello: Fairleigh Dickinson’s path to this recreation differentiates it. The Knights had been one of many worst groups in faculty basketball final season, ending 4-22 general 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 workforce 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 the First Four simply to get to this recreation. It’s an unbelievable story, and a fair 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 workforce quantity 68 on the seed checklist (however nearer to a 15-seed general). My lingering query: How did FDU lose 15 instances?

FDU is the shortest workforce 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 unsuitable time. They did not get him the ball when it mattered, principally as a result of they could not get into their offense towards 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 workforce, 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 snug.

Medcalf: We need to 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 workforce 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 going through all that strain. And it labored.

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Gasaway: Your peak would not assist you in case you’re capturing 19% in your 3s and committing seven extra turnovers than the opponent. Edey was his normal self. Purdue as a workforce was tried and located wanting on one unbelievable 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 towards any of the highest groups within the bracket, however the Knights did not need to. 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 is just not going a lot additional on this bracket. The Knights’ subsequent recreation shall be towards 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 dimension benefit. Fairleigh Dickinson shall be an infinite underdog no matter opponent — and I’ll seemingly decide towards them once more! — however the Knights are enjoying with loads of confidence. They’ll have momentum. And the complete enviornment shall 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 velocity 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 workforce, all the way down to the oldsters on the coaching employees and anybody affiliated with that workforce, shall be thought to be legends for the remainder of their lives and past. Hard to ascertain 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 of FDU towards FAU and the Knights advancing by advantage of a typo. FDU followers need to be within the “Why not?” stage by now, and perhaps we must 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 think in most 67-game samples of the common season, we would discover a few heavy underdog victories. Add in impartial courts, tight officiating and the strain 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 does not imply “anything can happen.” Strictly talking, the champion remains to be extremely prone to come from a comparatively small variety of groups. But what we be taught each single March with out exception is that completely any workforce can lose. Purdue discovered it in 2023.

Borzello: It’s the NCAA match! This is what occurs. More so than simply three high-major applications dropping within the first spherical to date, it is one 1-seed and one 2-seed. These are seeds that was nearly proof against 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 prime of the game all season, and it is exhibiting itself this week.

Medcalf: That it is essentially the most lovely sporting occasion on this planet and it shouldn’t be expanded. It’s excellent the place it’s. You solely need to be nice for one afternoon/night. And if you’re, magic can occur. But it additionally speaks to the parity throughout the panorama this season. I by no means thought we had a fantastic workforce this season. I do not suppose we’ve got a workforce that may beat final yr’s Kansas workforce. Still, these upsets have been beautiful. It speaks to the ability of the NCAA match.