March Madness Upset Tracker: How Far Can Princeton and Fairleigh Dickinson Go?
FOX Sports Insider
College football writer
Who’s breaking the parentheses? We follow every upset of a 13, 14, 15 or 16 seed and ask: Who can make a Cinderella run? Here are the results so far.
Round 1: Defeated Arizona59-55
Round 2: Defeated Missouri78-63
Shortly after Princeton shocked the college basketball world with an improbable 59-55 victory over No. 2 Arizona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, several Tigers players got together and sang a chorus.
“We’re not done yet,” they shouted.
Mitch Henderson’s group was on hand as the Tigers added another memorable chapter to their Cinderella story on Saturday, knocking out No. 7 Missouri, 78-63, and winning the program’s first-ever trip to the Sweet 16 in the process. .
“These guys came here to win,” Henderson said after the Tigers win. “We are more than happy to be here, but not surprised.”
Perhaps the reason Henderson isn’t surprised is the fact that he’s held the position before…as a player.
Henderson led Princeton to a pair of victories in the 1996 and 1998 NCAA Tournaments as the team’s point guard. The Tigers’ win over Missouri on Saturday marked the school’s fourth Big Dance win since 1985, meaning Henderson was involved in all four wins.
While those victories as a player certainly hold a place in Henderson’s heart, what his team was able to accomplish on Saturday holds a place in college basketball history.
With the victory, Princeton becomes only the fourth 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 and the second Ivy League school to make the Sweet 16 in the past 43 tournaments.
Princeton reserve guard Blake Peters, who has averaged just over 13 minutes of playing time per game this season, led the charge on Saturday, scoring a career-high 17 points while shooting 5 on 8 from the city center.
The second-year guard was in disbelief shortly after the final bell sounded, reality slowly settling in that his team had just taken another step forward in their unimaginable journey.
“I have no words for it,” Peters said. “When we go there, we believe in each other. Everything is possible.”
The Tigers will now face the winner of Sunday’s Baylor v Creighton game.
Baylor, the 2021 national champions, are a high-scoring offensive group led by one of America’s most accomplished backcourts. The line of Adam Flagler, Keyonte George and LJ Cryer combine to average 45.7 points per game, which is almost 60% of the Bears’ offensive output.
On the other side, Creighton is one of the most balanced teams in the country, with five players averaging between 11.9 and 15.9 points per game. After a disappointing streak at the start of the season, Greg McDermott’s side caught fire in the second half of the season, winning eight straight from January 14 to February 14. 11. The Bluejays have won four of their last five heading into Sunday’s game against Baylor.
Whoever the Tigers face in next week’s Sweet 16, the Princeton players had no hesitation in sending a message to their future opponent.
“They don’t want to see us,” first-year guard Jack Scott shouted at the cameras as the Tigers celebrated their win over Missouri.
After a pair of wins that have been as impressive as any team in the tournament so far, it’s fair to say that no one wants to be on the opposite side of this Cinderella story.
Round 1: defeat of No. 1 Purdue63-58
Round 2: against Florida Atlantic7:45 p.m. ET Sunday
Scooch over UMBC, meet your new best friend Farleigh Dickinson.
The Knights made history Friday night in Columbus, Ohio, becoming the second seed of 16 to win an NCAA Tournament game by upsetting regular season and Big Ten Tournament champion Purdue in a fashion. which was hardly a coincidence. Tobin Anderson’s side beat the Boilermakers, scored more off the bench and forced 16 turnovers to cement one of the biggest shocks March Madness has ever seen.
Yes, even more so than the Retrievers’ monumental 74-54 victory over Virginia in 2018.
You see, Fairleigh Dickinson shouldn’t even have been able to bring down Purdue in any way. They lost to Merrimack in the NEC Tournament Championship game last Tuesday, but received the conference’s automatic offer for the big dance due to the Warriors not being eligible as a transition program from the division II.
Due to being the 68th and final team in the tournament according to the NCAA Selection Committee, FDU was sent to Dayton to play in the top four. They ended up beating Texas Southern to earn the short drive to Columbus to face the No. 1 seed in the East as a -23.5-point underdog.
(Instant reaction to John Fanta’s March Madness 2023: FDU-Purdue, a real David story on Goliath)
Safe to say they’ve now lost that for a much more fitting tag as the last Cinderella to honor the great post-season that is March Madness. The question for the Knights now is: can KenPom’s No. 275 team make a run like Saint Peter did a year ago? This team led by Shaheen Holloway also ended up eliminating Purdue and advanced to the Elite Eight.
FDU however, might have a much harder road to travel to even reach the East Regional at Madison Square Garden. The Knights advance to face No. 8 seeded Memphis or No. 9 Florida Atlantic.
The Tigers have a veteran core in the backcourt and have been among the hottest teams in the country for the past few weeks, knocking out Houston to win the AAC Tournament last Sunday. The Owls, meanwhile, have lost just three times all season and have one of the best offenses in the country with a prolific offense that’s hard to defend.
Even if they were to overtake either of those two, a badly underseeded Duke team that hasn’t lost since Feb. 11 (and controversially) or a dangerous Tennessee team awaits in New York. Big East champion Marquette could be looming after that.
So celebrate the moment along the Jersey Shore as much as you can, Fairleigh Dickinson, because the path ahead in the NCAA Tournament is only going to get tougher from here after toppling top seed Purdue .
Round 1: defeat of Virginia, 68-67
Round 2: Lost to San Diego State, 75-52
Looking for this year’s nominee for a Cinderella ready to go on a dream run?
Well, Furman was the first team to raise their hands on Thursday, with the NCAA Tournament’s first opportunity for a major upset.
The 13th-seeded Paladins sank Virginia, the South Region’s No. 4 seed, who knows all about being on the wrong side of painful shocks, thanks to an incredible turn of events during the last seconds in Orlando.
Bob Richey’s Furman team will now face the winner of the matchup between San Diego State’s No. 5 and College of Charleston’s No. 12. The Aztecs are defensively elite, but not great in the scoring column, while College of Charleston is a popular Cinderella pick, tied for the national lead in wins with 31.
San Diego State and the College of Charleston are both experienced groups, and both are experiencing hot streaks. The Aztecs have won 10 of their last 11 games, while the Cougars are riding a 10-game winning streak heading into the big dance.
Whatever happens after that, Furman will never forget what happened for a few moments of true Mars-style madness.
Deep in the final minute, Virginia seemed to have things under control, operating with a 67-63 lead, having taken defensive control on the stretch. But Kihei Clark missed a free throw, Furman big man Garrett Hien (a 51% FT shooter) made it two from the boards, and then it all turned into chaos.
Furman put pressure on Virginia after the resulting inbounds pass, and Clark elected to throw the ball down the field without seeing it. It landed in the hands of Hien and was quickly delivered to an unguarded JP Pegues who drained a triple to give his side a 68-67 lead with 2.2 seconds left.
Reece Beekman’s last desperate effort was wayward for Virginia, and that’s it.
It’s SoCon Tournament champion Furman’s first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1980 and the program’s first win since 1974. Thursday’s triumph came despite star guard Mike Bothwell missing in the final minutes after committing a fault.
Tony Bennett’s Virginia team had reached the ACC Tournament title game last weekend, and trailed by no less than 12 on Thursday, before a comeback boosted by Furman’s Jalen Slawson, who finished with 19 dots.
It wasn’t on the same scale as when Bennett’s group were seeded No. 1 and lost to 16th-seeded UMBC — on the exact same day five years ago — but it was an upset that few saw it coming.
More importantly, it served immediate notice. Cinderella, once again, comes to play.
Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX And subscribe to the daily newsletter.
Bryan Fischer is a college football writer for FOX Sports. He has covered college athletics for nearly two decades at outlets including NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports and NFL.com among others. Follow him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.
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