Fairleigh Dickinson University’s men’s basketball team, the Knights, pulled off a historic upset on Friday night, beating the No. 1 seed Purdue University 63-58 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Knights, a 16-seed, became only the second team in NCAA men’s tournament history to beat a No. 1 seed. The first was the University of Maryland-Baltimore County in 2018 when they beat the Virginia Cavaliers. After a poor season last year when FDU finished with a 4-22 record, this year’s team has excelled, finishing the season with a 20-15 record.
Purdue was the heavy favorite going into the game, with all but one member of ESPN’s expert panel predicting its victory. Despite trailing for most of the game, the Knights came back in the second half, with Darnell Edge scoring 33 points on 11-21 shooting. FDU was also helped by Purdue’s poor outside shooting; the Boilermakers made only 9 of 36 three-pointers.
The Knights’ victory was especially impressive given that the team’s top scorer, Jahlil Jenkins, was held to only six points due to a stomach virus. Purdue’s big man, Zach Edey, had 21 points and 15 rebounds, but it was not enough to stop FDU. The Boilermakers missed a three-point shot in the final seconds that would have tied the game, and the Knights made two free throws to seal the win.
FDU head coach Tobin Anderson called the victory “unbelievable” and said that his team had “shocked the world.” The win also puts the Northeast Conference school, one of the smaller basketball programs in the NCAA, in the national spotlight. FDU will next play on Sunday against the winner of the game between Memphis and Florida Atlantic.