After the clock had run out on Purdue in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, announcer Andrew Catalon said, “The heart of Cinderella beats inside the Farleigh Dickinson Knights tonight.”
Well, no chest cavities were opened and no cardiologists were on hand in Columbus as the Knights celebrated their shocking victory, but it’s fair to say Catalon’s diagnosis was correct. Farleigh Dickinson, a team that won only four games last season, has become the second No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed.
Most March Madness fans didn’t see this upset coming, not at the hands of FDU, who only got the chance to play Friday because they won a play-in game in the First Four. But, there is reason to believe FDU could continue its streak of success by winning Sunday in round two.
The Knights of Farleigh Dickinson made a lot of history in round one. The victory over Purdue was the first in school history in March Madness. It was also the first NCAA tournament (non First Four) win by a team from the Northeast Conference.
In round two on Sunday, the Giant Slayer will face the Florida Atlantic Owls, who defeated Memphis on Friday night in the 9/8 matchup. DraftKings has Florida Atlantic at -645, making them the biggest favorite in the second round.
FDU wouldn’t even be in March Madness if it wasn’t for a silly rule the NCAA has that disallows colleges from being in the NCAA Tournament for four years after moving up from Division 2. This season, Merrimack College won the Northeast Conference title, but because they just joined Division 1 three years ago, they were ineligible. The Knights also won under a coach that had never coached a game in the NCAA tournament before this season, and never coached at the Division 1 level before he was hired by FDU before the 2022-23 season. Head coach Tobin Anderson improved the team from 4-22 a year ago, and has his undersized roster believing they are nine-feet tall.
WIth a three-guard set and reliance on slashing drives to the paint, the Knights are a matchup nightmare for big teams. That’s because FDU can collapse the defense on a penetrating ball handler, and get open for spot jumpers. The Knights showed they have great closing speed and shot-blocking ability against the Boilermakers. That type of frenetic energy plays well in March Madness.
The Knights had 11 steals in the game against Purdue, and forced 16 turnovers. Many of those came when the big men for Purdue tried to put the ball on the floor. Against Florida Atlantic, FDU will need to use that tenacious defense to hamper their opponent on their end of the court. The Knights are not a good rebounding team, and they don’t shoot well from deep (153rd in the nation). But, they do score, averaging more than 70 PPG, mostly due to high percentage shots near the rim.
The Knights will face Florida Atlantic in round two on Sunday, and BetMGM Sportsbook has No. 16 FDU listed at +480 for that game. That means a $100 winning bet on the Knights in round two would pay $580, including your stake.
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