St. Peter’s Continues Magical Tournament Run
By Michael Costeines
The story of the NCAA Tournament so far is the St. Peter’s Peacocks. The Jersey City, New Jersey athletic collegiate program has put the college basketball world on notice with two upset wins over Kentucky and Murray State. The story also emphasizes that to succeed in college sports, the conference, big-time schools, or divisions don't determine ultimate success, hard work, determination, and some talent will get you where you want.
The No. 15 seed took out the Wildcats last Thursday 85-79 behind 27 points from Daryl Banks III and 20 points from Doug Edert. Coming into the game, Kentucky was a 17.5-point favorite. The Peacocks became just the 10th 15th-seed to defeat a No. 2 seed in NCAA Tournament history.
For context, Kentucky has won 2,353 games and eight national championships. Moreover, the Wildcats have produced 55 first-round picks and 32 under current head coach John Calipari. Recent selections include Tyler Herro (Miami Heat) in 2019 and Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves) in 2015. St. Peter’s hasn’t had a player drafted since 1971, per basketball-reference.com
From a financial perspective, Kentucky outspent Saint Peter’s 18.3 million to 1.6 million during the 2019-2020 school year, which was the most recent unaffected by Covid-19. That is the biggest budget differential since at least 2007. Lehigh’s upset of Duke in the 2012 NCAA tournament was the previous high mark (15.9M to 1.6M).
And from an enrollment view, Kentucky has 22,227 undergraduates to St. Peter’s 2,355 undergraduates. That is a ratio over 9/1. A small program less than five miles from the Big Apple (New York City) took out Big Blue Nation.
In the Round of 32, the Peacocks defeated the Racers 70-60 behind KC Ndefo’s 17 points and ten rebounds. St. Peter’s continued the trend of No. 15 seeds advancing to the Sweet 16. Oral Roberts made its own run during the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
What has also encapsulated St. Peter’s run is its perceived talent. The Peacocks are mostly made up of two-star prospects with ties to the tri-state area. Per 274sports.com, Jaylen Murray is the highest-ranked recruit on its roster. The 5-foot-9 guard was ranked 302nd in the 2021 class. Murry and Ndefo hail from the Bronx, a borough of New York City. Ndefo played his high school ball at Elmont Memorial and Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. His only offer came from St. Peter’s.
Banks III only other scholarship offer coming out of high school was from Wagner. The 6-foot-3 guard led St. Peter’s in scoring this season (11.4 ppg). Junior guard Doug Edert went to Bergen Catholic in New Jersey. The mustache-wearing guard was a 1,000-point scorer and won a state championship for the Crusaders.
“I’ve got guys from New Jersey and New York City,” said head coach Shaheen Holloway after their win over Murray State. You think we’re scared of anything?”
Can St. Peter’s continue its magical run? The Peacocks face No. 3 seed Purdue in the Sweet 16 on Friday. The Boilermakers possess first-team All-Big Ten shooting guard Jaden Ivey. He has averaged 17.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
As we’ve seen, the Peacocks should not be intimated. They have already put their program on the map for college basketball fans to know they belong.
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