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 event. It solely took 5 years for a second 16-seed to do it, with Fairleigh Dickinson gorgeous 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 more I watch Purdue, the more I think we can 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 specialists Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway, Joe Lunardi and Myron Medcalf break all of it down. — Jeff Borzello

Have 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 gifted. 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 as a result of its transition to Division I athletics.

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

John Gasaway: That is the large 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 beneath Louisville at KenPom. On paper, this is without doubt one of the weakest groups we have seen within the NCAA event in years. And, oh, by the way in which, they only made historical past. Neglect the paper! Nicely achieved, FDU!

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 Might. Ten months later, he has guided Fairleigh Dickinson to this second. It is a crew that did not win both the common season championship or the convention event within the NEC, the worst convention within the nation. The Knights needed to get via the First 4 simply to get to this recreation. It is an unbelievable story, and a fair 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 checklist (however nearer to a 15-seed general). My lingering query: How did FDU lose 15 occasions?

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

Borzello: Purdue was dreadful from 3-point vary, to place it merely. Edey was fantastic. He had 21 factors and 15 rebounds, proper round his season averages. However his supporting forged struggled on the improper time. They didn’t 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 crew, the Boilermakers shot 19.2% from 3. They turned it over 16 occasions. FDU landed the primary punch, put Purdue on its heels and by no means let the Boilermakers get comfy.

Medcalf: We now have to outline “struggle” right here. Edey nonetheless completed with 21 factors on a 7-for-11 outing. What FDU did so effectively? 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? All people not named Zach Edey mixed to complete 12-for-42 for Purdue. That is an issue. It was an excellent gamble by Tobin Anderson. He did not belief the opposite guys to execute in that second with Edey going through all that stress. And it labored.

Gasaway: Your peak does not provide help to for those who’re taking pictures 19% in your 3s and committing seven extra turnovers than the opponent. Edey was his ordinary self. Purdue as a crew was tried and located wanting on one unbelievable night.

Lunardi: Why? As a result of the NCAA event is the final 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 must. They solely needed to win 40 minutes.

How a lot additional can FDU go on this event?

Gasaway: Here is your bulletin board materials, Knights! FDU isn’t going a lot additional on this bracket. The Knights’ subsequent recreation can be towards 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 event, 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 dimension benefit. Fairleigh Dickinson can be an infinite underdog no matter opponent — and I will probably choose towards them once more! — however the Knights are taking part in with loads of confidence, they’re going to have momentum. And the whole enviornment can 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 may 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 employees and anybody affiliated with that crew, can be considered legends for the remainder of their lives and past. Onerous to examine FDU discovering a strategy 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.

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

We have now seen three main groups get taken down. What does this say about this event to you?

Lunardi: There are 67 video games within the NCAA event. 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 stress of one-and-one and all of it turns into a flamable, pleasant combine.

Gasaway: This event 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 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 realized it in 2023.

Borzello: It is the NCAA event! That is what occurs. Extra so than simply three high-major packages shedding within the first spherical thus far, it is one 1-seed and one 2-seed. These are seeds that was once 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 occasions 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 the most stunning sporting occasion on the earth and it shouldn’t be expanded. It is good the place it’s. You solely must be nice for one afternoon/night. And if you’re, magic can occur. However it additionally speaks to the parity throughout the panorama this season. I by no means thought we had an incredible crew this season. I do not suppose we’ve got a crew that will beat final 12 months’s Kansas crew. Nonetheless, these upsets have been gorgeous. It speaks to the ability of the NCAA event.