Purdue’s March Madness upset history: No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson latest Cinderella to upend Boilermakers

History was made – and repeated – at the 2023 NCAA tournament.

Fairleigh Dickinson, a First Four team that only made March Madness because Merrimack was not eligible to represent the Northeast Conference (NEC) in the tournament, became only the second No. 16 to defeat a No. 1. Sixteen seeds improved to 2-150 all-time after UMBC’s upset of Virginia in 2018.

The Knights, the nation’s smallest team, have upended Zach Edey and Co., 2022-23 Sporting News Player of the Year, in an unlikely 63-58 upset by the Boilermakers – despite all the motivation that FDU coach Tobin has Anderson Purdue may have given after his team’s top four win against Texas Southern.

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With that, Fairleigh Dickinson gives the NEC its first-ever NCAA tournament win (the teams had previously gone 0-30) and their first win in March Madness history (having previously gone 0-5).

FDU’s historic moment is something of a recurring nightmare for Painter and Purdue — one that dates back to the dawn of the NCAA tournament’s extended bracket era but has become all the more painful in recent tournaments.

In fact, this is the third straight year that Purdue’s NCAA tournament exit goes into the hands of a double-digit seed. The Boilermakers lost to 13 North Texas seeds in the first round of the 2021 NCAA tournament and then to 15 Saint Peter’s seeds in the Sweet 16 round of the 2022 tournament.

Adding to the pain of that defeat is the fact that Purdue and the FDU once faced each other in the first round of the NCAA tournament in a 16-1 game: Purdue won the 1987 meeting 94-79, advancing as everyone expected – a far cry from what happened in Columbus, Ohio on Friday.

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MORE: How many 16 seeds won in March Madness? Story of 16v1 upsets after Fairleigh Dickinson joined UMBC

Overall, this is Purdue’s ninth all-time loss to a double-digit Cinderella in the NCAA tournament, although none can hurt as badly as this one.

So here’s the story of the Boilermakers with double-digit losses in the NCAA tournament:

History of Purdue Disorders in the NCAA Tournament

The results date from the beginning of the extended bracket era in 1985.

competition seed Round Result
1985 6 seeds First round 58-58 loss to 11 seed Auburn
1986 6 seeds First round 94-87 loss to 11-seed LSU (2OT)
1990 2 seeds Second round 73-72 loss to 10 seed Texas
1991 7 seeds First round 80-63 loss to 10 seed Temple
2011 3 seeds Second round 94-76 loss to 11-seed VCU
2016 5 seeds First round 85-83 loss to 12-seed Little Rock (2OT)
2021 4 seeds First round 78-69 loss to 13 seed North Texas (OT)
2022 3 seeds sweet 16 67-64 loss to 15 seed Saint Peter’s
2023 1 seed First round 63-58 loss to 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson


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