Bradley’s Buzz: The Big Dance gave us FDU, FAU - and almost KSU

The pause between Weeks 1 and 2 of the NCAA tournament is when we count by conferences. The Big Ten sent eight teams; seven are gone, and the one that remains is the one that always remains. The ACC sent five; only Miami is left. The SEC and the Big East each have three of the Sweet 16, the SEC having registered the most wins (nine) of Week 1, the Big East having the best record (7-2).

The nation’s lowest-rated conference (32nd of 32) was the Northeast. The biggest upset of Round 1 – the biggest upset since Chaminade over Virginia on Dec. 23, 1982 – was delivered by a team that lost the Northeast final to Merrimack, ineligible for the NCAA tournament because it’s reclassifying from Division II.

The now-legendary upsetter was Fairleigh Dickinson of Teaneck, N.J. The Knights entered their First Four matchup against 14-20 SWAC champ Texas Southern as the nation’s 312th-best team, per Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. There are 363 DI teams. On Nov. 30, FDU lost to Hampton, which would win once thereafter to finish as KenPom’s 362nd-ranked team.

Purdue has 25 Big Ten titles but is always a good bet to botch the Big Dance. Since 2016, it has lost to a 15th seed, a 13th and a 12th. On Friday, it contrived to lose to tiny-in-size-and-stature FDU, thereby joining Virginia as the only No. 1 seed to be undone by a No. 16. “We have a friend now,” UMBC tweeted, the Retrievers’ Twitter still in the form that made it a two-day sensation in March 2018.

This led to the strangest Round 2 game ever. Fairleigh Dickinson, which prefers to be known as FDU, faced FAU, which prefers to be known as Florida Atlantic. The Owls of Boca Raton – not to be confused with Owls of Kennesaw, Ga., who came within a blocked layup of major March noise themselves – ousted Memphis in a collapse so complete coach Penny Hardaway was moved to chuck hs water bottle.

FAU beat FDU Sunday in a game that will be recalled only for its ending. FDU coach Tobin Anderson ordered his Knights not to foul over the final few seconds, which didn’t discourage FAU’s Alijah Martin from trying a windmill dunk, which he muffed, which drew boos in the arena and prompted a mightily miffed Anderson to confront Owls coach Dusty May in the handshake line. You don’t dunk on Cinderella.

Another No. 1 seed fell Saturday. Arkansas upset Kansas, leading coach Eric Musselman to shuck his shirt in celebration. (Didn’t Dean Smith do that a time or two?) Given that Tennessee bullied again-fancied Duke out of the tournament and that Auburn was leading Houston, still another No. 1 seed, by 10 at the half, the greatest day in SEC hoops annals seemed at hand. Then Auburn spit the bit. Oh, and Missouri lost to the Ivy League by 15 points.

The Sweet 16 will feature only one double-digit seed – No. 15 Princeton, conqueror of Arizona and Mizzou. Michigan State, reaching its 15th regional semifinal under Tom Izzo, is the one team yours truly saw coming. I was sure I’d picked my worst Final Four ever when against-the-grain choice Texas A&M was routed by Penn State, but I’ve got three – Alabama and UCLA are the others – still working. Hooray for that.

As for Kennesaw State: Their game with Xavier played out the way a 14th seed dreams – get ahead, heap the pressure on the favorite, enter the final seconds with the ball and a chance to win. The Owls did as they’d done all season with games on the line: They threw the ball to the small-but-mighty Terrell Burden and let him drive. He popped free. The 7-foot Jack Nunge blocked the shot. It happens.

If anything, KSU’s excellence in Round 1 was confirmed by Xavier’s performance in Round 2. The Musketeers made two 3-pointers against Kennesaw; they made 16 against Pitt of the ACC. They won by 11 after leading by 20. Asked on Friday how his team had come from 13 down to beat the Owls, Xavier coach Sean Miller said, “I’m really not sure.”

We know the 2023 edition of “One Shining Moment” will feature FDU and Princeton and Furman, not to mention Musselman’s torso and Hardaway’s water bottle. Kennesaw State came as close as is possible to having its moment – and if it had, it might still be playing.

The above is part of a regular exercise, written and curated by yours truly, available to all who register on for our free Sports Daily newsletter. The full Buzz, which includes more opinions and extras like a weekly poll and pithy quotes, arrives via email around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

FAQ: How do you sign up? Go to the home page. Click on “newsletters” at the top right. Click on “Sports Daily.” You’ll need to enter your email address. Thanks in advance, folks.