Introducing Cinderella: Fairleigh Dickinson is headed to the NCAA tournament

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
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Fairleigh Dickinson had three players put up 20 points on Tuesday night as they went on the road to St. Francis (PA) and knocked off the Red Flash, 85-76, to win the automatic bid from the NEC.

Darnell Edge led the way with 21 points while Kaleb Bishop and Jahlil Jenkins chipped in with 20 points apiece.

It’s the second time in four years that the Knights are dancing.

CONFERENCE: NEC

COACH: Greg Herenda

RECORD: 20-13, 12-6 (2nd NEC)

RATINGS:

  • KENPOM: 211
  • NET: 215

PROJECTED SEED: Fairleigh Dickinson will almost assuredly be a No. 16 seed come Selection Sunday, and there’s a real chance that they are one of the four teams that end up in a play-in game.

NAMES YOU NEED TO KNOW: Darnell Edge is the best scorer on the roster for Greg Herenda, as he put up 16.3 points during the regular season while shooting 46.9 percent from three, but there is an argument to be made that point guard Jahlil Jenkins is actually the team’s best player. He averaged 13.3 points, 4.6 assists, 3.2 boards and 1.6 steals this season.

BIG WINS, BAD LOSSES: The Knights have played just one Q1 game and two Q2 games. They lost all of them. They do have one Q3 win — which came at Princeton (188) — but that is their only win against a team that is in the top 235 of the NET. Playing in the NEC is not exactly a murderer’s row for scheduling.

STATS YOU NEED TO KNOW: I think the thing to know with this group is that, despite starting the year 6-11 and NEC play 1-4, they found a way to win 11 of their last 13 regular season games before reeling off three straight during the conference tournament. That said, I find it hard to imagine a team that ranks 295th nationally in defensive efficiency has a chance to pick off a No. 1 seed, but you never know.

HOW DO I KNOW YOU?: You probably don’t.

FINAL THOUGHT: Greg Herenda spent 15 days in the hospital in San Antonio at last year’s Final Four recovering for a blood clot scare. This year he is headed back to the NCAA tournament. You have to be happy for him.