TEANECK, NJ — Fairleigh Dickinson University has become an overnight sensation after causing the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history on Friday.
They became only the second No. 16 seed to upset a No. 1 seed. It’s been over 24 hours since they put on that Cinderella slipper, and the reality of their path to that victory is pretty ridiculous.
“I would personally say life changing. That whole game has changed everyone on our team, staff, students, everyone who goes to Fairleigh Dickinson University. Everything is different now,” said player Sean Moore.
The knights dreamed of that victory and on Saturday they woke up in a new world.
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“It still hasn’t sunk in all the way, but yesterday when I got to my phone… My phone exploded, was on fire, hundreds of notifications,” said player Ansley Almonor.
Fairleigh Dickinson was not even allowed to be in the tournament. They only made the dance because the team they lost to in the conference tournament was ineligible to play in the NCAA tournament.
FDU is the shortest team in the country, but shows the biggest heart.
Next up is Florida Atlantic, and beating them will be a real challenge.
“They’re not huge. They are still bigger than us, but who isn’t bigger than us? Surely there are five men in the hallway who are taller than us?’ said coach Tobin Anderson.
Anderson is in his first year as head coach at FDU and has been a motivational force. He has taken a program that won four games last year to new heights.
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Before facing top Purdue, he went viral by telling his boys, “The more I watch Purdue, the more I think we can beat them.” Then they made that dream a reality.
FDU beat and defeated one of the best teams in the country. Purdue spent seven weeks with the No. 1 team in the United States; no other team spent more time at number 1 in the rankings.
Fairleigh Dickinson was the lowest-ranked team in the dance — 68 out of 68. They proved that it’s not about how you get there, but what happens when you get there.
“You know, I told the guys for Purdue, I said, ‘You know, this is going to be hard. To beat Purdue, it’s going to be really, really hard… It’s going to be an incredible challenge, but we’re here. there’s a chance here, right? We have 40 minutes to make it happen.” So it’s incredibly special to come here,” Anderson said.
Now they’re just one step away from the Sweet 16, which happens to be right here in New York.
CBS2’s Steve Overmyer asked Anderson, with everything that’s happened this year, what it would mean to play in a Sweet 16 game at Madison Square Garden?
“That’s a question you wouldn’t even be able to fathom, I mean what, two weeks ago, definitely not two months ago. I mean, yeah, it would just be unbelievable… what’s the word?…I mean “I don’t even have words to describe what that would be. It would just be a remarkable achievement to do that, to get to a Sweet 16 in the Garden,” said Anderson.
He added: “You know, I wouldn’t have to fly back to Jersey. I probably could, I would jog back. I’ll jog back as soon as the game starts, I’ll just go for a run. I’ll be like Forrest Gump or something like that. That would be incredible. So that’s beyond our wildest dreams, kind of like “Hoosiers” to do that. But we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. You can’t think that far ahead. We’re always thinking about the next bye, next breakfast, next movie session. So we’ll keep doing that, keep focusing on that and join us tomorrow night.”
FDU will play eighth-seeded Florida Atlantic on Sunday at 7:45 PM. Vegas doesn’t believe in them – right now they’re 15 point underdogs – but that’s a role they embrace.