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COLUMBUS, Ohio — No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson, the shortest team in men’s college basketball, defeated Purdue and its 7-foot-3 authoritative big man on Friday. Zach Eddy, whose shocking N.C.A.A tournament upset epitomized the reality of March Madness.
The game took place in the N.H.L. Blue Jackets, where thousands of Purdue fans from across the Indiana border gathered as they waited for their Big Ten champion team to begin their long march to the Final Four. Instead, when the final whistle blew, Fairleigh Dickinson’s players ran toward midfield, screaming frantically and causing mayhem in front of fans waving cell phone cameras to record the school.
The most dramatic victory in sports history. Fairleigh Dickinson tea One by one, coaches and players threw themselves into each other’s arms. Many people were still standing there watching.
“I can’t even explain it. I’m in shock right now,” said junior forward Sean Moore, who led Fairleigh Dickinson with 19 points as his team led 63-58 after the game. “I can’t believe it. “
Fairleigh Dickinson The win marked just the second time the men’s No. 16 team has defeated a top-ranked player in the same playoff game after UMB beat Virginia by 20 points in 2018. On the women’s side, Harvard, the No. 16 seed, beat top-ranked Stanford in the 1998 tournament.
F.D.U., in Tenneka, N.J., across the Hudson River from upper Manhattan, had never advanced to the second round until Friday. The Cavaliers must beat Texas Southern in a playoff game on Wednesday to earn the right to play Purdue, which just won the Big Ten tournament on Sunday. “If we played them 100 times, they probably beat us 99 times,” Fairleigh Dickinson F.D.U. said after the game. coach Tobin Anderson. His team, small, young and 23 points behind, “has to be unique,” he said. “We have to be extraordinary.”
Fairleigh Dickinson ,Purdue has struggled in almost every facet of the game. Boilermakers tend to be sharp from long range, making less than 20 percent of threes. Although they rebounded more than their undersized counterparts, F.D.U. 11 key offensive rebounds, slowing Purdue’s attempts to regain control.
Fairleigh Dickinson, Purdue often rotated small F.D.U. defensemen in and out of play like a hockey team by swiping across the screen to easily see the rim. However, the leading F.D.U. inconsistent for large stretches of the game, shooting less than 40 percent from the field.
But its defense, Fairleigh Dickinson ,which featured regular full-court presses and double teams from Eddy, baffled Purdue’s carefully crafted offense, which racked up more than 250 possessions. “A lot of times one guy is guarding the back and the other guy was sitting on my lap,” Eddy, arguably the nation’s best player, said ruefully after the game. He had 21 points and 15 rebounds, a typical lineup that looked pointless on Friday night. “It hurts,” said Matt Painer, Purdue’s coach since 2005. “They played better than us,” he added. “They train better than we do.”
“They are great,” said the Painter.
Fairleigh Dickinson, It was the third straight year Purdue lost a double-digit seed to the N.C.A.A. a game that suggests Friday’s defeat may not have been entirely a fluke. But its loss to F.D.U. was the worst system failure that prioritized local, obscure, non-NBA recruits. The hype of top-ranked players being lured to other college basketball powerhouses. Purdue has focused on player development over the years, essentially abandoning the transfer portals other top programs have turned to to deepen their rosters.
That idea has been a point of pride for Painter, who has reached the last 16 six times but never in the last four. He said Friday that his team is “doing things right” this season.
After being named the nation’s top team for seven weeks this season, the program is at the top of the list for the second year in a row, and Purdue’s players believe they have what it takes to win a national championship. Starting forward Mason Gillis had plenty to say Thursday as his team prepares to face F.D.U. “We have the pieces,” he said confidently.
F.D.U. is one of the most unlikely successes in college basketball. It is the shortest team in Division I – 363 out of 363 teams – with an average height of just 6 feet. Almost every Purdue player has a significant size advantage, including Eddy, who often guards shorter players.
F.D.U. Finished 4-22 last season and was voted sixth in the conference’s preseason coaches poll. This season it bounced back with 20 wins. The Cavaliers earned an automatic bid from the Northeast Conference, but did not actually win a conference championship. They lost in the final to Merrimack, which moved up from Division II and was ineligible for the N.C.A.A. in the tournament.
F.D.U. coach Anderson warned during the postgame celebration after Wednesday’s win that his team could play against Purdue, a belief that irked Purdue before the game. “The more I watch Purdue, the more I think we can beat them,” Anderson said in the team’s locker room after Wednesday’s game.
He said Friday that he was sorry the sentiment was ignored. But his players say their coach is proven. “We showed why we belong here,” said 5-foot-5 guard Demetrius Roberts, scoring 12 clutch points around Purdue’s tall guard. “We all have a burden on our shoulders,” Anderson said.
Just a year earlier, Anderson was the head coach at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Spakill, New York, where he coached Moore. Anderson is a “grinder,” Painter marveled after Friday’s upset. Purdue has a much larger fan base than F.D.U. number of supporters and the stadium buzzes as its mascot Purdy Pete parades across the field to address the school’s many supporters.
But as Fairleigh Dickinson the game went on and F.D.U. remained closed, chants of “F.D.U.” shout from the ranks of Cavaliers modest fans and the Memphis and Florida Atlantic partisans who will be in the same arena later Friday night. about the game. Purdue looked to get the game back in the first 10 minutes of the second half as it relied heavily on Eddy, who often slapped teammates for the ball like a volleyball player.
Anderson described Eddie’s coping method: choking teammates. Anderson noted that Eddy has performed equally well in wins and losses for Purdue. The difference, he said, is when Edey is double- or triple-teamed, they limit the talented players around Edey when they shoot from deep or cut to the rim. Anderson says that when Eddie’s supporting cast struggles, so does his crew.
Eddie had several strong dunks in the second half as he struggled to control the game and roared for his shots on Fairleigh Dickinson. The Boilermakers have a six-point lead that could be insurmountable. The look of concern Purdue’s coaches are shooting at each other seems to have subsided. But the F.D.U. is brave and ruthless and scores 8 unanswered points to regain control.
The rest of the game was a tight back-and-forth, with mostly one-ball goals. Purdue freshman Fletcher Loyer hit two clutch 3-pointers to tie the game. Moore responded with a 3-pointer of his own with just over a minute left in the game, effectively cementing the team’s lead. Painter said his team failed to refocus as they pitched poorly and struggled to avoid F.D.U. defensive trap. “When people push you like that, you have to quit,” he said. “You have to open the shot.”
He seems to have absorbed the shockwaves Purdue sent the entire game: More than 96 percent of fans believe Purdue won ESPN’s breakout game, leaving zero perfect men on the sidelines after Friday’s bracket night.