Doug Edert celebrating over Purdue in March Madness. Courtesy of Hannah Ally

Saint Peter’s University: the 2022 Cinderella story

Saint Peter's becomes the first #15 seed school to make the Elite Eight

Essential to the madness of March, there is always a Cinderella school—a low-seed school that upsets multiple high-seed schools—in the tournament, such as #16 seed University of Maryland, Baltimore County dominating #1 seed Virginia 74-54 in 2018. 


But no school has done what Saint Peter’s University has done. The Peacocks—yes, the Peacocks—became the first #15 seed school to make it to the Elite Eight. It all started when the Peacocks made it to the tournament in an automatic bid, won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and played the #2 seed Kentucky Wildcats in the first round of the tourney. 


Saint Peter’s University is a small Jesuit Catholic University in Jersey City, New Jersey, with 2,600 undergraduates and 800 graduates—for reference, Portland State University has 23,177 total students. 


The Peacocks competed in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), finishing second with a 22-11 record, 14-6 in conference. They play at the Run Baby Run Arena which has a capacity of 3,200. They were seeded #2 in the MAAC tournament, beating #7 seed Fairfield 77-63, #11 seed Quinnipiac 64-52 and #4 seed Monmouth 60-54.


The Peacocks stunned the nation, upsetting the #2 seed Wildcats’ 85-79 lead as Daryl Banks III made 27 points and went 5-8 on three-pointers. Doug Edert put up 20 points, with a perfect 2-2 on three-pointers and a perfect 8-8 on the free throw line. Jaylen Murray put up eight points with 3-7 shots, but 2-2 when behind the three-point line. The team had a high 52.9% three-point field goal percentage and outshot Kentucky, which went 26.7%, or 4-15, on three-pointers.


March Madness fans fell in love instantly. Murray State—a #7 seed—was a team with 31 wins and only two losses team, after a win over the #10 seed San Francisco Dons. Saint Peter’s did not sweat and beat out the Murray State Racers by 10 points and won 70-60. 10 rebounds and 17 points came from KC Ndefo and 13 points from Edert. The team looked like they belonged there, keeping it close the whole game and dominating the court. 


The Peacocks advanced to the Sweet 16, becoming the second #15 seed to ever make it past the second round. Only 1.53% of March Madness brackets picked them to advance this far. Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma was the first #15 seed team to make it to the Sweet 16, just last year.


The next real challenge was the #3 seed Purdue Boilermakers, a school with multiple top-25 wins under their belt—including #16 Iowa, #19 Illinois, #6 Villanova and #14 Wisconsin. This game was closer as Banks dropped 14 points to lead the team and Clarence Rupert put up 11 points and three rebounds. Edert put up 10 points and three rebounds, in 21 minutes. 


The Peacocks had 19 fouls while Purdue had 18 fouls. Both teams were hot on the free throw line—shooting 19-21 for Saint Peter’s which is a high 90.5%. Purdue went 13-15 which is 86.7% on the line. Edert went 7-for-8 on the free throw line. Saint Peter’s had more steals with nine while Purdue had two. The Peacocks went on to spoil the Boilermakers’ dreams of competing in the Final Four when they won 67-64. The last time the Saint Peter’s Peacocks danced in the March Madness tournament was in 2011, with a loss to Purdue 43-65, so it only made sense to play them again and seek revenge on the Boilermakers in their comeback appearance.


In the Peacocks’ three previous times in the March Madness tournament—in 2011, 1995 and 1991—they never saw past the first round. The Peacocks were not new to the postseason though, as they won the College Insider Tournament (CIT) in 2017 against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, 62-61. 


Saint Peter’s made history with this win over Purdue, advancing to the Elite Eight and being the first and only #15 seed team to do so. Only 0.87% of March Madness brackets picked Saint Peter’s to advance to the Elite Eight. The Peacocks now play the #8 seed North Carolina for a chance to make more history, with hopes to become the first #15 seed to ever compete in the Final Four.