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


History has been made — and repeated — in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

Fairleigh Dickinson, a First Four team that only made March Madness because Merrimack was ineligible to represent the Northeast Conference (NEC) in the tournament, became just the second No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed. Sixteen seeds have now improved to 2-150 all time following UMBC’s upset of Virginia in 2018.

The Knights, the shortest team in the nation, upended 2022-23 Sporting News Player of the Year Zach Edey and Co. with an improbable 63-58 upset of the Boilermakers — despite whatever motivation FDU coach Tobin Anderson may have given Purdue following his team’s First Four win over Texas Southern.

Live NCAA bracket | TV schedule | Predictor tool

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

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

Indeed, this is the third straight year Purdue’s NCAA Tournament exit has come at the hands of a double-digit seed. The Boilermakers lost to 13-seed North Texas in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, then lost to 15-seed Saint Peter’s in the Sweet 16 round of the 2022 tournament.

Adding to the pain of this loss is the fact Purdue and FDU once faced off in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in a 16-1 game: Purdue won that 1987 meeting 94-79, advancing as everyone expected them to — a far cry from what happened in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday.

MORE: How many 16 seeds have won in March Madness? History of 16 vs. 1 upsets after Fairleigh Dickinson joins UMBC

In all, this is Purdue’s ninth all-time loss to a double-digit Cinderella in the NCAA Tournament, though none may hurt as badly as this one.

With that, here is the Boilermakers’ history of double-digit upset losses in the NCAA Tournament:

History of Purdue upsets in NCAA Tournament

Results date back to the beginning of the expanded-bracket era in 1985.

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