March Madness First Weekend Winners and Losers


Ben Kruer


Farleigh Dickinson

Undoubtedly, FDU is this weekend’s big winner. The Knights only made the tournament because of technicality, and, lost their conference tournament to Merrimack, but because Merrimack is not yet an NCAA Tournament-eligible team, FDU was the Northeast Conferences’ tournament representative. This makes it even more impressive that the Knights became the second 16 seed ever to beat a one seed with their win over Purdue. Per Ken Pomeroy, FDU is the 363rd tallest team in the country, good for dead last, while the Purdue Boilermakers are ranked as the tallest team in the country, being spearheaded by 7’4” behemoth, and National Player of the Year frontrunner, Zach Edey. Despite this massive height advantage, FDU found a way to win, in large part because of the excellent play from junior forward Sean Moore. Moore had 19 points, including three key three-pointers and a key block on freshman guard Braden Smith during the closing moments of the game. It is worth noting that the game was played in Columbus Ohio, Moore’s hometown.

“Man, I can’t even explain it,” Moore said. “I’m still in shock right now. I can’t believe it. It’s crazy. But it feels amazing.”

This FDU run came to an end at the hands of Florida Atlantic but this tournament showing from FDU will likely be remembered as one of the better Cinderella runs in recent memory joining the likes of Saint Peters in 2022 and Loyola Chicago in 2018


If it weren’t for FDU, Princeton would have been the biggest story of the first two rounds. The Tigers have now become the third 15 seed in as many years to make it to the Sweet Sixteen following in the footsteps of Oral Roberts in 2021 and Saint Peters in 2022. In the first round, the Tigers beat popular Final Four Pick Arizona with some unreal defense on the Wildcats, who are one of the best offensive teams per Ken Pomeroy. In that game senior forward Tosan Evbuomwan proved to be the difference as he was able to draw Arizona’s normally stellar but slower, big men away from the basket, opening cutting lanes with his teammates. In the following game against the Missouri Tigers, Princeton trounced them. They won by a score of 78-63 behind 22 points from senior guard Ryan Langborg and an astonishing 16 boards from 6’6” freshman forward Caden Pierce, brother of Indianapolis Colts receiver Alec Pierce. Even with this success, the Tigers will have a tough task ahead of them as they play the six seed Creighton Bluejays, who just might have the best starting five in college basketball.

Coaches, Young and Old

It truly was a great weekend for coaches. Legendary coach Rick Pitino led the Iona Gaels in their game against the metrics darling UCONN Huskies. The Gaels and Pitino ultimately fell short but put up a good fight, one that was good enough for Saint Johns to give Pitino a job offer, one that he took. Speaking of Iona, the Gaels replaced Pitino with former FDU coach and viral sensation Tobin Anderson. Anderson’s journey is truly one for the record books as just two years ago he was at a Division II college and now is going to be filling the shoes of one of the greatest college basketball coaches ever. Lastly, there is Tom Izzo. The adage of “January, February, Izzo” remained true as the Spartans are once again in the Sweet 16. Michigan is poised again to make a deep March run with their experienced backcourt of senior guards Tyson Walker and AJ Hoggard. The Spartans will match up against the Kansas State Wildcats who just missed the cut as a winner of the weekend because of senior guard Markquis Nowell and the incredible story of senior forward Keyontae Johnson.



They just simply have to be here. Apologies to all Purdue fans but the team was sluggish, sloppy, undisciplined, unready, and a million more adjectives could be used to describe the Boilermakers poor play against FDU. You would think that Anderson calling out Purdue earlier in the week would make for great bulletin board material, but Purdue just looked as if they couldn’t care if they won or lost. Now, this isn’t to say that all Purdue players just “gave away” this game, Edey had his typical monster numbers racking up 21 points and 15 rebounds but there were players that just weren’t up to the task. There were many times throughout the game when Purdue players had open shots but whether it be a lack of confidence or something else, they passed them it. FDU’s defense didn’t exactly make it any easier as the swarm created by the sheer amount of rangy, long, and athletic wings that FDU had sent many of Purdue players, particularly freshman guard Braden Smith into a tailspin. Smith tallied up seven costly turnovers due to the pressure. Ultimately, most of the blame will fall on coach Matt Painter and it is somewhat deserved as losing to a 16 seed, let alone one that didn’t even win its conference tournament and was a First Four team, is unacceptable. This all being said, Purdue should and will rebound, Painter is too good of a coach and has built too good of a system along with the fact that Edey may still return. It is especially interesting considering the fact that Virginia, the first one seed ever to lose to a 16 seed, won the entire tournament the following year. Obviously, this a different scenario but who’s to say what will happen, after all, it is March Madness.

Repeat Champions

Kansas lost in the round of 32 in a hard-fought battle against the Arkansas Razorbacks, a team that is quite a bit better than their eight seed would have you believe. But what is so interesting about Kansas’ loss is that now the past 6 national champions have not made it past the round of 32. This phenomenon can largely be credited to the fact that after winning the national championship, many players will depart from the team. Kansas for example, lost Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, and Christian Braun, all key players in their previous title pursuit. Even more interestingly, however, is the fact that this trend will likely continue. The two teams who are at this moment favored heavily to win it all are Alabama and Houston. Each of those teams have experienced players who will likely be leaving along with players with lottery pick potential that will also be leaving.

Two Seeds

It was an extremely tough weekend for two of the four two seeds. Arizona of course was upset in the first round by Princeton and Marquette lost to MSU. Each team displayed an incredible amount of promise heading into the season but unfortunately fell flat. Looking at Texas, the two seed in the Midwest region, in both of their games against Penn State and Colgate there were moments where it looked as if they could lose. Texas was of course able to use their overwhelming talent to eventually win but they did show some cracks that might reappear in the game against the Xavier Musketeers in their Sweet 16 match up. A quick note on Texas interim coach Rodney Terry though, it truly is amazing the job he has done at Texas. The way he steadied the ship after the Chris Beard incident shows how much he is respected and beloved by his players. Although UCLA is by no stretch of the imagination a loser from the weekend, they should quickly be talked about to wrap discussion of the two seeds. The Bruins looked phenomenal in both of their games. With Kansas being knocked out, they seem poised to make a Final Four run and even though the injury to junior guard Jaylen Clark certainly hurts their team, the play of freshman guard Amari Bailey has been very strong. UCLA just might be good enough to win the entire tournament if the pieces fall into place.