The Knights, who surprised one of the biggest upsets in March Madness history by lashing Purdue, made an unlikely run just to even get to the game.
The men’s basketball squad at Fairleigh Dickinson University, a private commuter school with a campus in Teaneck, N.J., went 4-22 last season. Three of its best players and its coach were competing in Division II. And the Knights, playing in the Northeast Conference, didn’t even win their conference tournament, a title they normally would have needed to make the N.C.A.A. tournament.
And yet, Fairleigh Dickinson became just the second No. 16 seed ever to topple a 1 in the men’s tournament, by taking down Purdue, 63-58, in the first round on Friday. (In 2018, top-seeded Virginia lost to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. In the women’s tournament, No. 16 seed Harvard beat No. 1 Stanford in 1998.)
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