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Was FDU-Purdue the biggest upset in NCAA men’s history?


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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.

Whereas 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 4 to do it.

After beating Texas Southern in Wednesday’s First 4 matchup, head coach Tobin Anderson made a pronouncement that set the stage for Friday’s monumental upset.

“The extra I watch Purdue, the extra I believe we are able to beat them,” he instructed his crew 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 consultants Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway, Joe Lunardi and Myron Medcalf break all of it down. — Jeff Borzello

Had been does this upset rank all time?

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

There have been definitely Purdue doubters who questioned if Zach Edey had the assist to advance to the Closing 4. However Fairleigh Dickinson is No. 298 on KenPom proper now. No. 298. This crew 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 resulting from its transition to Division I athletics.

While you issue all of that in, and also you pit them in opposition to a crew with the man who’s going to be the unanimous Wood Award winner … This is likely to be the best upset we have ever seen. Wow.

John Gasaway: That is the massive one. Positive, fellow No. 16 seed UMBC beat Virginia by 20 in 2018. However have a look at the circumstances in 2023. The Knights misplaced the NEC title recreation to Merrimack. They entered the sport under Louisville at KenPom. On paper, this is without doubt one of the weakest groups we have seen within the NCAA match in years. And, oh, by the way in which, they only made historical past. Neglect the paper! Nicely executed, FDU!

Jeff Borzello: Fairleigh Dickinson’s path to this recreation 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 Might. Ten months later, he has guided Fairleigh Dickinson to this second. This can be a crew 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 way of the First 4 simply to get to this recreation. It is an unbelievable story, and an excellent greater upset than UMBC’s.

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

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

Borzello: Purdue was dreadful from 3-point vary, to place it merely. Edey was effective. He had 21 factors and 15 rebounds, proper round his season averages. However his supporting solid struggled on the mistaken time. They did not get him the ball when it mattered, largely 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 crew, 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 now have to outline “battle” right here. Edey nonetheless completed with 21 factors on a 7-for-11 outing. What FDU did so nicely? They restricted his touches. They despatched a number of our bodies at him each time he wished the ball, wore him down and dared his crew to beat them. Guess what? Everyone not named Zach Edey mixed to complete 12-for-42 for Purdue. That is 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 strain. And it labored.

Gasaway: Your peak would not show you how to if you happen to’re taking pictures 19% in your 3s and committing seven extra turnovers than the opponent. Edey was his regular self. Purdue as a crew was tried and located wanting on one unbelievable night.

Lunardi: Why? As a result of the NCAA match is the last word expression of what the statisticians name “small pattern measurement.” 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 need to. They solely needed to win 40 minutes.

How a lot additional can FDU go on this match?

Gasaway: This is your bulletin board materials, Knights! FDU isn’t going a lot additional on this bracket. The Knights’ subsequent recreation might be in opposition to an opponent assured to be older, extra skilled and extra versatile than the No. 1 seed that FDU simply defeated. However who is aware of? What number of 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. However it’s not 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 might be an unlimited underdog no matter opponent — and I am going to possible decide in opposition to them once more! — however the Knights are enjoying with loads of confidence. They will have momentum. And your complete area might be behind them.

Medcalf: Someplace, 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. However this is likely to be it for FDU even when Memphis fails to advance.

And whether it is, who cares? Each member of that crew, right down to the parents on the coaching workers and anybody affiliated with that crew, might be considered legends for the remainder of their lives and past. Laborious to ascertain FDU discovering a option to regular itself earlier than the subsequent 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.

Lunardi: All I can consider is the potential of FDU in opposition to 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 part of them.

We have 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 might 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 “something can occur.” Strictly talking, the champion continues to be extremely more likely to come from a comparatively small variety of groups. However what we be taught each single March with out exception is that completely any crew can lose. Purdue discovered it in 2023.

Borzello: It is the NCAA match! That is what occurs. Extra so than simply three high-major applications shedding within the first spherical to date, it is one 1-seed and one 2-seed. These are seeds that was once virtually 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 displaying itself this week.

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

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