The odds were heavily stacked against Fairleigh Dickinson.
Entering the 2023 men's NCAA Tournament, No. 16 seeds had an all-time record of 1-147 against No. 1 seeds.
And an FDU team that boasts the shortest average height in Division I college basketball at 6-foot-1 was tasked with containing a 7-foot-4 force in Purdue center Zach Edey.
None of that, however, stopped FDU coach Tobin Anderson from calling his own team's shot.
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After the Knights defeated Texas Southern in the First Four on Wednesday, Anderson made a bold statement in the locker room.
"The more I watch Purdue, the more I think we can beat them."
That bulletin-board material certainly could have come back to haunt the head coach. But Anderson clearly wasn't intimidated by the tall task at hand, and the Knights wound up playing with the same kind of confidence their head coach displayed.
A swarming FDU defense forced Purdue into 16 turnovers and held Edey without a shot attempt for the final nine-plus minutes as the Knights secured a historic 63-58 upset victory at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio on Friday. They joined the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) as the only 16-seeds to knock off a 1-seed.
"The speech is getting overblown," Anderson said after Friday's win. "We just have faith in what we do and our guys are so tough and so competitive. I'll do a better job in this locker room speech than the last one. It was the right message, maybe the wrong audience.
"But listen, I love our guys. They're tough, they're gritty, they play their tails off. I mean that's an unbelievable win. We just shocked the world."
FDU will face the East Region's No. 9-seeded Florida Atlantic Owls on Sunday. And no, Anderson didn't make any bold statements about the Knights' next game in his latest locker room speech.
How long has Tobin Anderson been FDU's head coach?
This is Anderson's first season at the helm. He previously served as head coach of Division-II St. Thomas Aquinas from 2013-22.
What is FDU's record?
Anderson has led a remarkable turnaround. After FDU went 4-22 last season, the Knights are now 21-15. It's their first 20-win season since they last made the tournament in 2019.
What conference is FDU in?
The Knights play in the Northeast Conference.
How did FDU make the NCAA Tournament?
Fairleigh Dickinson made the Big Dance in an unconventional way. The Knights received an automatic bid despite losing in the NEC tournament championship game. That's because the team that beat FDU, Merrimack, was ineligible for March Madness due to the D-I transition rule.
How many times has FDU made the NCAA Tournament?
This is the Knights' seventh NCAA Tournament appearance. They've won three games in the Big Dance, with two of them coming just this week.
Has FDU ever made the Sweet 16?
FDU, which is in the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time, will be playing for its first ever Sweet 16 berth.
Where is FDU located?
FDU's campus is located in Hackensack, New Jersey.