Fairleigh Dickinson Coach Tobin Anderson says team is staying focused after March Madness upset
TEANECK, N.J. -- Fairleigh Dickinson University has become an overnight sensation after pulling off the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history Friday.
They became just the second No. 16 seed to upset a No. 1 seed. It's more just over 24 hours since they've put on that Cinderella slipper, and the reality of their path to that win is fairly ridiculous.
"I personally would say life-changing. That whole game has changed everybody on our team, staff, students, everybody who go to Fairleigh Dickinson University. Everything is different now," player Sean Moore said.
The Knights dreamed of that win, and Saturday, they woke up to a new world.
READ MORE: Fairleigh Dickinson stuns No. 1 seed Purdue in March Madness
"It still really hasn't completely sunk in, but yesterday, when I got to my phone ... My phone was blowing up, on fire, hundreds of notifications," player Ansley Almonor said.
Fairleigh Dickinson wasn't even supposed to be in the tournament. They only made the dance because the team they lost to in the conference tournament wasn't eligible to play in the NCAA Tournament.
FDU is the shortest team in the nation but showing the biggest heart.
Next up is Florida Atlantic, and beating them will be a tall task.
"They're not huge. They're still bigger than us, but who's not bigger than us? There's five guys in the hallway are bigger than us, right?" Coach Tobin Anderson said.
Anderson is in his first year as head coach at FDU and has been a motivational force. He's taken a program that won four games last year to new heights.
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Before facing top-seeded Purdue, he went viral by telling his guys, "The more I watch Purdue, the more I think we can beat them." Then they made that dream a reality.
FDU outhustled and outplayed one of the top teams in the nation. Purdue spent seven weeks at the No. 1 team in the United Sates; no other team spent more time at No. 1 in the rankings.
Fairleigh Dickinson was the lowest-seeded team in the dance -- 68 out of 68. They proved it's not how you get there, it's what happens when you do.
"You know, I told the guys before Purdue, I said, 'You know, this is going to be hard. To beat Purdue, it's gonna be really, really hard ... It's gonna be an unbelievable challenge, but we're here. There's an opportunity here, right? We have 40 minutes to go make it happen.' So, just to get here is incredibly special," Anderson said.
Now, they're one step away from the Sweet 16, which happens to be here in New York.
CBS2's Steve Overmyer asked Anderson, with all that's taken place this year, what would it mean to play in a Sweet 16 game at Madison Square Garden?
"That's a question you wouldn't even fathom being asked, I mean, what, two weeks ago, definitely not two months ago. I mean, yeah, it would just be incredibly... what's the word? ... I mean, I don't even have words to describe what that would be. It would just be a remarkable achievement to do that, to get to a Sweet 16 at the Garden," Anderson said.
He added, "You know, I wouldn't have to fly back to Jersey. I could probably, I'd jog back. I'll jog back as soon as the game, I'll just take off running. I'll be like Forrest Gump or something. That'd be incredible. So that's kind of beyond our wildest dreams, a little bit like 'Hoosiers' to do that. But we've got a lot of work in front of us. You can't think that far ahead. We always think about the next day, the next breakfast, the next film session. So that's what we'll keep on doing, just keep on focusing on that and go compete tomorrow night."
FDU will play eighth-seeded Florida Atlantic at 7:45 p.m. Sunday. Vegas doesn't believe in them -- right now, they're 15-point underdogs -- but that's a role they're embracing.
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