No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson upset No. 1 Purdue in NCAA tournament


COLUMBUS, Ohio — The door to the quirky dungeon where a Virginia team sat alone for five years suddenly inexplicably opened Friday night and a ray of light shone in, and in that light appeared the best sight Misery has ever known.

Alongside Virginia in this dungeon and in all the wretched future references will be Purdue, the emphatic Big Ten champion who lost 63-58 to Fairleigh Dickinson University on Friday night and became the second of the 152 No. 1 seeds since seeding, Mope Construct started in 1985 to lose to a No. 16 seed. It succumbed, like Virginia in 2018, to a set of initials largely unknown to the entire arena watching.

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“It’s tough. It’s a very tough thing,” said Purdue Coach Matt Painter. “…Obviously it hurts. It hurts…We’ve got to face it. We’ve got to deal with it. We’ve got to come back stronger.”

Where Virginia’s loss helped the country learn UMBC – University of Maryland Baltimore County – Purdue’s will shine the light of madness on FDU, a Teaneck, NJ school that went by its official name of Fairleigh-Dickinson when it had a 10- Points lead over No. 1 seed Michigan in 1985 before narrowly breaking, 59-55. Additionally, FDU became the second consecutive small New Jersey school to knock Purdue out of the brackets, after St. Peter’s last year in the Sweet 16.

“If we played them 100 times, they would probably beat us 99 times,” FDU first-year coach Tobin Anderson said. “But tonight is the day. We had to be unique. We had to be unorthodox.”

This time, Purdue’s nemesis came from the woods of the First Four, where FDU swept past Texas Southern 84-61 on Wednesday night just for a shot at Purdue. It came out of a program that went 4-22 last season and actually finished second in its conference tournament, only to receive the offer because champion Merrimack was ineligible for the NCAA tournament due to the wait for teams to switch up Department I

“We all have a chip on our shoulder,” Anderson said, “people are saying we shouldn’t be here (because of Merrimack), we shouldn’t be in the tournament and all that stuff we have to listen to.”

Even though things looked a bit odd at halftime with FDU at 32-31, they looked almost normal with Purdue at 47-41 midway through the second half. That’s when FDU began to show unusual courage and heart, after which Purdue’s offense began to look jittery, uncertain, and then shaky. The Boilermakers’ 7-foot-4 Big Ten Player of the Year Zach Edey, who amassed 21 points and 15 rebounds, became a non-factor with FDU often knocking the ball out of his hands.

“We talked before the game about whether they win or lose (Edey) averages the same score,” Anderson said. The FDU has “done a great job with everyone else”.

Purdue struggled with shooting, making 5 of 26 from beyond the arc.

Boilermakers Guard Fletcher Loyer said: “5 for 26 is not what we expect, not what we have worked for, not a product of the work we have put in.”

Purdue also struggled to care for the ball, with 16 turnovers to 9 for FDU.

Loyer again: “Your pressure wasn’t something we’ve seen before, but it was constant.”

A quick mid-half comeback succeeded as Purdue’s Brandon Newman fumbled on the perimeter and FDU’s Joe Munden Jr. picked him up, rushing to downcourt without the slightest fear, making a layup and pulling a foul. His free throw returned the score of 52-50, and FDU never followed suit from then on.

The minutes continued to tick by as Purdue’s stress mounted until 1:05 remained when FDU’s Sean Moore, one of the players following Division II Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Anderson, braced himself from the top of the button. When he got fired from his vacancy, he made a little skit out of the sequel and held it off as if sure of the outcome. When it sloshed, FDU led 61-56.

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From there, Purdue got two free throws from Fletcher Loyer to narrow down to 61-58 and then regained possession after a play check in his defensive end with 30 seconds left, but his offense had disintegrated by then. His initial ambiguity caused Coach Matt Painter to call a time-out with 18.9 seconds left, and then Braden Smith drove across the left side of the lane only to have Moore fly in and deny his attempt with 12.3 seconds left.

Then Loyer threw a guarded airball out of the corner and FDU’s Demetre Roberts took two free throws with 8.1 seconds left and the sinking looked poised for Purdue while Virginia looked poised for company. No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson upset No. 1 Purdue in NCAA tournament

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