Fairleigh Dickinson is the first winner of the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The No. 16 seed Knights from Teaneck, New Jersey, knocked out fellow No. 16 seed Prairie View A&M 82-76 on Tuesday in the First Four.
If the the first game of this year's tournament is any indication as to how nutty the next few weeks will be, we could be in for quite a show. Fairleigh Dickinson trailed by as many as 13 in the second half, but the Knights flipped a switch from there, outscoring the Panthers 48-29 to close the game. Paced by Darnell Edge, a senior who scored 33 points and made 7 of 9 attempts from 3-point range, FDU seized control late and held on for the victory, the first NCAA Tournament win in school history. Jahlil Jenkins added 22 points and six assists, keying a closing stretch.
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Fairleigh Dickinson's run was all the more remarkable when you consider the opposing Panthers, which entered the evening ranked 318th out of 353 teams in 3-point shooting, made 10 of its first 15 launches from beyond the arc. Prairie View A&M (22-13) finished 15-of-28 from deep, a season-high for the team.
Prairie View A&M's 3-point barrage was nearly enough to bury Fairleigh Dickinson, but the Knights kept charging, eating away at the lead in huge chunks. The two teams traded leads for a stretch in the final few minutes before FDU regained it for good with 4:28 remaining.
The Knights (21-13) have a quick turnaround with little time to prep for their talented opponent in the first round. On Thursday, they face No. 1 seed Gonzaga, where they'll look to become just the second No. 16 seed in NCAA Tournament history to defeat a No. 1 seed.