(MENAFN) Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) made NCAA Tournament history on Friday night by becoming the second No. 16 seed in history to win a game, stunning top-seeded Purdue 63-58. Led by 19 points from Sean Moore and a relentless, hustling defense, the Knights (21-15) defeated the Big Ten champion Boilermakers (29-6) in a shocking upset. FDU is the shortest team in the tournament, but they showed no fear in swarming 7-foot-4 All-America center Zach Edey from the start. The Knights' players were quicker and more composed than their opponents, and their defense proved to be the difference in the game.
Five years ago, UMBC made history by overwhelming Virginia in the first 16-over-1 victory after numerous close calls over the years. Despite those close calls, No. 16 seeds had a 1-150 record before FDU's stunning upset of Purdue. The Knights' victory is a testament to their hard work and determination, as they showed no fear in facing a higher-seeded opponent. After the final horn, FDU's players mobbed each other on the floor of Nationwide Arena, where the fans from Memphis and Florida Atlantic who were waiting for the day's final game joined forces in cheering on the Knights in the final, frantic minutes.
The Knights will now advance to the next round of the tournament, where they will face the winner of the Memphis-FAU game for a Sweet 16 berth and a trip next week to play at Madison Square Garden in New York. This is a huge accomplishment for FDU, as the private school's campus is just a short drive from the iconic venue. The Knights' victory is also a historic moment for the Northeast Conference, as they became the first team from the conference to win a game in the NCAA Tournament since 2016.
Fairleigh Dickinson's journey to the NCAA Tournament was not an easy one. The team didn't even win the Northeast Conference Tournament, falling by one point in the title game to Merrimack. However, Merrimack couldn't participate in the NCAA Tournament due to an NCAA rule that bars it from the postseason because it's still completing its four-year transition from Division II. Despite the disappointment of losing the conference title game, the Knights never gave up on their dream of making it to the NCAA Tournament, and their hard work and determination paid off in a big way.
FDU's victory over Purdue is a historic moment for the school and a reminder of the magic of March Madness. It's a testament to the power of belief and the importance of hard work, determination, and teamwork. As the Knights prepare for their next game, they will undoubtedly carry the confidence and momentum from this historic upset, and they will look to continue their Cinderella story in the NCAA Tournament.
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