College Hoops

Getting to know Fairleigh Dickinson, the NCAA Tournament’s Cinderella darling

College Basketball

Add Fairleigh Dickinson to the list of giant-killing New Jersey schools in March Madness.

The 16th-seeded Knights pulled off a mammoth upset Friday night, upsetting top-seeded Purdue 63-58 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Undersized FDU played big against the Boilermakers and became only the second No. 16 seed to topple a No. 1 seed. Maryland-Baltimore County was the first, knocking off Virginia in 2018.

FDU’s win blew up most of the remaining brackets. Just who are these guys?

WHERE IS FDU?

The school has two campuses in New Jersey: Teaneck and Florham. The school’s website list a total enrollment of 11,400 students, though U.S. News & World Report lists the number as 7,860 as of fall 2021. The Teaneck campus is close to New York City; the Florham campus is on a former country estate of socialites Florence Vanderbilt and Hamilton Twombly. FDU has owned the campus since 1958. FDU also has campuses in Wroxton, England, and Vancouver, British Columbia.

WHATโ€™S FDU KNOWN FOR?

Founded in 1942, notable alumni include billionaire and NFL Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf; Peggy Noonan, journalist and speechwriter to former President Ronald Reagan; former college basketball coach and ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg; and U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, a Delaware Democrat.

WHO ARE THE FDU STARS?

Demetre Robinson (16.6 points per game), Grant Singleton (14.3), Ansley Almonor (14.1) and Joe Munden Jr. (10.6). Sean Moore, the Knights’ leading scorer in the Purdue game with 19 points, came in averaging 6.7.

HOW DID THE KNIGHTS GET HERE?

FSU lost in the Northeast Conference Tournament final to Merrimack by a single point but got the automatic bid to the NCAA tourney because Merrimack wasn’t eligible as it transitions to Division I. FDU routed Texas Southern in the First Four play-in round to earn a date against Purdue.

DID YOU KNOW?

The FDU win is just the latest in eye-catching victories by New Jersey schools.

A year ago, Saint Peterโ€™s toppled No. 2 seed Kentucky in overtime to bust a bunch of brackets and then became the first 15-seed to reach the Elite Eight by beating … Purdue. FDU’s shocker also came just one day after No. 15 seed Princeton ousted No. 2 seed Arizona, 59-55.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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