GOLIATH IS A RUNT AGAINST THE KNIGHTS OF FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON
Written by Carl EY on 03/18/2023
Columbus, OH – Sixteenth ranked, recently defeated by a Division II team transitioning to Division 1 and now a Saint Patrick’s Day “dragon slayer” at Nationwide Arena, the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights did the unthinkable taking down number one ranked Purdue in the first round of March Madness. The Boilermakers heading home as the Knights are still dancing.
“We just shocked the world, and it couldn’t happen to a better bunch of guys, a better bunch of fans, my family, the whole thing,” said Tobin Anderson, Fairleigh Dickinson’s first-year coach.
The Knights, typically, would not have qualified for the NCAA Tournament as they lost their division tournament to the Merrimack College Warriors. However, the Warriors transitioning from Division II to Division 1 were not eligible to play in March Madness. Instead, Fairleigh Dickinson was awarded a play-in game opportunity in Dayton, Ohio. Physically, the shortest team in the NCAA tournament, the Knights beat Texas Southern by 20 points to earn the right to play the Boilermakers, the best team in the East Region.
“I love our guys — they’re tough, they’re gritty, [and] they play their tails off,” said Anderson, who continued his remarks suggesting that his fifth-year senior guards were the difference in the game.
The Boilermakers were favored by more than 20 points but took the Knights too lightly. The best Purdue could muster was a five-point lead in the second half as Zach Edey, who is listed at 7 feet four inches tall and the current National Player of the Year lead the Boilermakers with 21 points.
“Obviously it hurts,” said Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter as his two stars sat next to him at the post-game press conference with demoralized expressions. Painter, a classy, seasoned coach of 18 years, quickly moved onto praising the Knights for a great win. The Boilermakers have had some issues in the last few years being ousted by teams ranked in the double digits four times during March Madness. As such, Painter’s tenure has been in question.
Fairleigh Dickinson University will continue playing Sunday afternoon against the Florida Atlantic Owls. The Teaneck, New Jersey team will face long odds as 12.5-point underdogs.
But David faced a tough spread too when he tossed “the rock” at Goliath.