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Fairleigh Dickinson's win over Purdue is biggest upset by point spread in NCAA tournament history

Fairleigh Dickinson made NCAA tournament history in multiple ways Friday.

With its shocking, 63-58 win over Purdue, FDU became the second No. 16 seed in tournament history to knock off a No. 1 seed, joining UMBC in 2018.

But FDU actually one-upped UMBC. When UMBC pulled off its historic upset of Virginia, it was a 20.5-point underdog. FDU was an even bigger underdog. In fact, FDU was the biggest underdog to win outright in the NCAA tournament since the field expanded in 1985.

The Knights closed as 23.5-point underdogs. According to ESPN Stats & Info, FDU broke the record previously held by Norfolk State, which was a No. 15 seed and knocked off No. 2 seed Missouri as a 21.5-point underdog in 2012.

Fairleigh Dickinson players celebrate beating Purdue 63-58 on Friday in the first round of the men's NCAA tournament in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Fairleigh Dickinson players celebrate beating Purdue 63-58 on Friday in the first round of the men's NCAA tournament in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

In the win, FDU made life miserable for Purdue’s young guards. The Knights constantly pressed and trapped Purdue’s backcourt, causing the Boilermakers to turn the ball over 16 times in the loss. Additionally, FDU limited Zach Edey — Purdue’s 7-foot-4 All-American — to 11 shot attempts while holding Purdue to a miserable 5-of-26 from 3-point range as a team.

FDU’s historic victory was the second massive upset of the first round. On Thursday, No. 15 seed Princeton shocked No. 2 seed Arizona 59-55. Princeton was a 15-point underdog.

FDU will move on to the Round of 32 and face the winner of Memphis vs. Florida Atlantic. Will the Knights be able to pull off another upset?

Not the biggest upset this season

Purdue has now lost to a double-digit seed in three consecutive NCAA tournaments, but it doesn’t hold the distinction of being the biggest favorite to lose this season.

In December, Iowa lost at home to Eastern Illinois as a whopping 32-point favorite.

With that victory in Iowa City, Eastern Illinois became the first underdog of 30 or more points to win outright in the past 30 seasons, according to ESPN. Before that, Stephen F. Austin shocked Duke in November 2019 as a 27.5-point underdog, Charleston Southern beat Missouri in December 2019 as a 26-point underdog, and Gardner-Webb beat Kentucky in November 2007 as a 26-point underdog.

None of those massive upsets came on the same stage as Fairleigh Dickinson's performance Friday.