Sports

St. Peter’s Journey to the Elite Eight is a Win for The “Little Guys”

By John Mineses

News Editor

St. Peter’s University shocked the nation in making it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Men’s Division I Tournament, shining a huge light on smaller schools of New Jersey and beyond.

St. Peter’s University resides in Jersey City, NJ, which is about a 30-minute drive from our Teaneck-Hackensack footbridge here at FDU. 

Aside from being small schools from NJ, Division I men’s basketball is something that the Peacocks and Knights have in common.

FDU and SPU share a total of 10 appearances in the NCAA tournament, four coming from St. Peter’s Peacocks and six coming from the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights.

The Knights have had recent appearances in the tournament in 2019 and 2016, but were never able to crack the Sweet Sixteen. At the start of the tournament, St. Peter’s was not on any radars to pass the Sweet Sixteen either, but that may very well be the reason this was called a “Cinderella Story.”

The Peacocks shocked the world as the No. 15 seed and knocked out one of the highest ranked schools being Kentucky. Their Cinderella run would have them gain the momentum to beat top teams like Murray State and Purdue into their journey to the Elite Eight.

St. Peter’s had the utmost support from the Jersey City community as well as from fellow New Jersey schools, including FDU.

“Having a small school like St. Peter’s University go far in March Madness is good. Especially for the school and the state of NJ because it goes to show that you don’t have to be a power 5 school… or a top 25 program in the country to show that you have talent on your team,” said Anthony DiBlasio, a Fairleigh Dickinson University senior sports administration major, via text message. 

St. Peter’s certainly stole many headlines, and captured many New Jerseyans’ hearts to see their state represented. 

“It’s great for the school, players and athletic program getting recognition on a national scale,” DiBlasio said.

St. Peter’s history-making run showed that they were the first team in New Jersey to reach the Elite Eight since Seton Hall University in 1991.

While the students of FDU and other New Jersey schools had their hearts racing during this run, one can only imagine what it felt like for the students from the Jesuit school of Jersey City.

“St. Peter’s had nothing to lose but the world to gain. This magical run has meant so much for the St. Peter’s Community and the Jersey City community as a whole… We took the opportunity and absolutely hit the ground running,” said Martin Kasilag, a St. Peter’s University junior nursing major, via text message. “We’re a small yet diverse student body with a large number of first generation college students… seeing our basketball team overcome adversity and having their backs against the wall has been moving.”

Kasilag also serves as a member of SPARK, St. Peter’s Filipino club, a part of the Filipino intercollegiate networking dialogue known as District III. The same District III that includes Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Filipino club, Barkada, another connection found between two small schools from New Jersey.

Seeing what this journey has done for multiple communities shows that anything can happen in the world of college basketball. It seems like the Peacocks have broken the barriers and quite literally changed the game. Who knows what other schools they may have inspired for the near future.

“Who are we? We’re St. Peter’s. You can continue to overlook us but at the end of the day, we’re just going to have to show you what we’re made of,” said Kasilag.

Now knowing that the possibilities are only limited to the mind, maybe the Knights and the Peacocks will meet in the NCAA tournament one day and continue to represent small, unknown Division I schools on a national stage.

To St. Peter’s, thank you for a magical Elite Eight run that has given us quite a spark of energy for the next season to come. – From a fellow New Jersey school, FDU.

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 Maybe now it is possible the Knights and the Peacocks will one day meet in the NCAA Tournament.

Art by John Mineses

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