UMBC. Fairleigh Dickinson. Two names now etched in March Madness history as the only men’s No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed, and this year’s Cinderella faced an even tougher task, if you will.
The Knights stunned Purdue in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday, coming from behind again and again to finish with a 63-58 victory against the Big Ten champions.
Even by March Madness standards, Fairleigh Dickinson’s victory was unlikely for reasons beyond double digits next to her name on the scoreboard. The Knights didn’t even win their conference, reaching the NCAA tournament due to a rule that prohibited champion Merrimack from qualifying. They were ranked #298 in the KenPom rankings, out of 363 teams. Their tallest starter was 6-foot-7, against Zach Edey’s 7-foot-4. They won four games last year, in total.
What the team lacked in height they made up for in energy, constantly pestering Edey and taking advantage of 16 Purdue turnovers. They were the more aggressive team from the start, and by the end they had the Boilermakers looking like a bunch of deer in their headlights.
Most college basketball fans won’t know much about Fairleigh Dickinson, so let’s take a closer look at a school that just put itself on the map.
Where is Fairleigh Dickson located?
Fairleigh Dickinson University is made up of four campuses, two in New Jersey, one in Canada, and one in England. With more than 12,000 total students, it is the largest private school in New Jersey.
The school that just registered the unrest was FDU’s metropolitan campus in Teaneck, New Jersey, which is less than five miles from Manhattan. It also has a Florham campus that competes in Division III.
This is where the Division I team plays basketball:
What is Fairleigh Dickinson’s pet?
The team that just beat Purdue names the Knights after their mascot, complete with a chess piece logo. The school really leans into that, with a departmental set of five Knight Values: Integrity, Pride, Resiliency, Respect, and Unity.
Who are the famous students of Fairleigh Dickinson?
Fairleigh Dickinson has its fair share of notable alumni and alumni. They include former Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg, Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, “The West Wing” actor John Spencer, former USWNT player Sara Whalen, former WWE wrestler Darren Young and Home Depot co-founder Ron Brill.
How many times has Fairleigh Dickinson made the NCAA tournament?
This was FDU’s seventh trip to March Madness, his sixth as a No. 16 seed, and his first win.
Who is Fairleigh Dickinson’s head coach?
FDU’s finest hour comes in head coach Tobin Anderson’s first season with the program. He joined last offseason after nine seasons at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Division II, winning the East Coast Conference four times and going 28-5 in his final season.
He took over a moribund program, which had gone 4-22 the year before and hadn’t made the NCAA tournament since 2019.
Going into the game, one of the biggest topics of conversation surrounding Fairleigh Dickinson was some comments from head coach Tobin Anderson.
After defeating Texas Southern in the First Four only to make it to Purdue, Anderson was seen on camera saying, “The more I see of Purdue, the more I think we can beat them.” The Boilermakers did not take it well, with one player saying “[Purdue coach Matt] Painter said it was disrespectful. We all take it as a lack of respect. We’re going into that game ready to play, trust me.”
As it turned out, Purdue should have been concerned about a lot more than disrespect, whereas Anderson can always say he made up his mind.