No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson became the talk of the college basketball world Friday night after pulling off a stunning 63–58 upset of No. 1-seed Purdue in the round of 64. But, while the Knights’ improbable win may have surprised the nation, the Cinderella team already appeared to be on a collision course with destiny long before taking the floor in Columbus.
A video of first-year FDU coach Tobin Anderson went viral after Friday night’s contest, as college basketball fans took to social media to weigh in on the second first-round win by a 16 seed in NCAA history. In the clip, Anderson is seen addressing his team after FDU earned a 84–61 First Four win over Texas Southern on Wednesday to clinch a date with the Boilermakers.
Near the end of his speech, Anderson looks directly into the camera before looking back to his players to deliver a direct statement about their upcoming opponent.
“I want Purdue to see this,” Anderson said. “The more I watch Purdue, the more I think we can beat them … let’s go shock the world.”
Needless to say, that’s exactly what they went on to do.
In a true battle of David vs. Goliath, the Knights, the shortest team in the nation, outlasted the Boilermakers, the tallest team in the nation, in a back-and-forth matchup that came down to the last few possessions. But, like Anderson declared two days ago, FDU shocking managed to emerge victorious while holding Purdue to its lowest scoring output since Feb. 16.
With Friday’s win in the record books, the Knights joined 2018 tournament darling UMBC, who defeated Virginia in the first round, as the only No. 16 seeds to knock off a No. 1. Meanwhile, the Boilermakers will now face the sting of another disappointing end to a season after falling to a double-digit seed in the tournament for a third consecutive year.