PHILADELPHIA — You’ll probably watch the NCAA Tournament for a very long time before you see anything like what the Saint Peter Peacocks did. It’s historic. This is remarkable. This is first and foremost, all that mars should deliver.
By now, you’ve heard many times that Shaheen Holloway’s side are the first No. 15 seeds to reach the Elite Eight. That’s right, and if that was all the Peacocks did, it would be amazing.
Saint Peter’s have come this far with a mix of relentless defense and persistent attack. Shots weren’t falling for the Peacocks for much of the game against Purdue, but Holloway’s team got the ball and even grabbed some crucial offensive rebounds late against the much bigger Boilermakers. Efforts like this have allowed SPU to rise above the cruel calculations of brackets.
The NCAA Tournament is, after all, specifically designed to send you home. Look at the field of 68 and you will notice that 88% of the teams have already been eliminated.
This math has chewed up even the best seeds like Baylor, Gonzaga, and Arizona, not to mention #2 seeds like Kentucky and Auburn. Of course, it was Saint Peter’s who sent the Wildcats home. That alone was exceptional.
Even including the Peacocks’ win over Great Britain, the No. 15 seed since 1985 is 10-138 in the Round of 16. You probably remember some of the famous names in this category, and you also know that Florida Gulf Coast in 2013 and Oral last year Roberts even hit the Sweet 16.
Now SPU has surpassed even FGCU and ORU. In the process, the Peacocks broke the record for the all-time lowest seed to reach a regional final. Prior to the 2022 Miracle, Missouri in 2002 and Oregon State last year both played in the Elite Eight as No. 12 seeds – three lines up than Holloway’s team.
If you watch these tournaments hosted by the Tigers and Beavers, you’ll see that both teams performed brilliantly while having their run smoothed by an upset in their group.
This was not the case with Saint Peter’s. Every opponent in the Peacocks’ path has been the highest seed available. First there was Kentucky, then No. 7 seed Murray State and finally No. 3 Purdue. That support hasn’t crumbled, and SPU is taking on — and beating — all comers.
Winning three games as No. 15 ranks among the most unlikely tournaments in the event’s modern history. UMBC beating top seed Virginia by 20 in 2018 is certainly an extreme event in itself. Likewise, Butler made back-to-back national title matches in 2010 and 2011.
These moments have stood the test of time. Peacocks will reach that same threshold in their own unique and characteristic way.
A three-game winning streak is, at the very least, a longer winning streak than a single game. As for the Brad Stevens-era Bulldogs, they were very good teams with seeds (a No. 5 and a No. 8) well above what Saint Peter earned in 2022.
So we have reason to be impressed with the Peacocks’ accomplishment. We have never seen such a low ranked team win so many games in the NCAA Tournament.
When the horn sounded during Saint Peter’s victory over Purdue at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, the whole team rushed to the side of the field where their fans were celebrating. Doug Edert jumped on the press table and enjoyed the moment. He should have, and the team’s fans have good reason to be proud. What we have seen from SPU is unprecedented and historic. This could not have happened any other time than March.