The Fairleigh Dickinson men's basketball team joined select company in NCAA tournament history on Friday night, becoming just the second 16th seed ever to defeat a No. 1.
The Knights dealt a devastating loss to the Purdue Boilermakers, who join the 2018 Virginia Cavaliers as the only top-seeded teams ever to lose in the Round of 64. That upset came at the hands of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
But Friday's upset marked the biggest ever, at least by point spread, with Fairleigh Dickinson entering the game 23.5-point underdogs, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The previous mark was held by Norfolk State, who were 21.5-point underdogs when they knocked off 2nd-seeded Missouri in the opening round in 2021. UMBC was a 20-point underdog.
Incredibly, Fairleigh Dickinson wasn't even meant to be in the tournament. The Knights lost to Merrimack in the NEC conference tournament final, but Merrimack was ineligible for the big dance under the NCAA's transition rule -- a four-year ban from the NCAA tournament for teams who move up a division.
Instead, Fairleigh Dickinson, the conference runner-up, got the nod. To reach the Round of 64, the Knights first had to advance through the First Four, where they handily defeated Texas Southern, 84-61, on Wednesday night. The task was much taller on Friday -- literally -- when they had to take on Purdue and National Player of the Year Zach Edey, who is listed at 7-foot-4.
After the stunning upset, the Knights became the toast of social media, where journalists and fans were quick to embrace them as this year's feel-good Cinderella story.
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