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Coach of Fairleigh Dickinson rival ineligible for NCAA Tournament on Knights’ success: ‘I’m happy for them’

Merrimack College defeated Fairleigh Dickinson in the Northeast Conference Tournament and under normal circumstances it would’ve been the Warriors getting the chance to upset Purdue in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The Knights made the conference tournament final and lost by two points to the Warriors. But because Merrimack moved from Division II to Division I, they are ineligible to compete in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT until 2023-24. Fairleigh Dickinson, the No. 16 seed in the tournament, pulled off an incredible upset of No. 1 Purdue in the first round.

Merrimack coach Joe Gallo appeared on the “All Ball with Doug Gottlieb” podcast and said there were “no hard feelings” about not getting into the tournament because they knew the NCAA rule as they moved up. He added that he was happy for the Knights for their upset victory.

“I think the reactions most people are looking for aren’t what they’re going to get out of me. I’m happy for them. I’m happy for the league. I think people really kind s— on our league a lot this year. When every team is playing 4-5 guarantee games and your league starts out 0-40, your metrics are never going to catch up to the leagues.

Fairleigh Dickinson guard Grant Singleton celebrates after a basket against Purdue during the men's NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, March 17, 2023.


“They go and do what they did – not only in that game, I mean they 20-pieced Texas Southern and it wasn’t even close. I think for them to do that gives our league a little more credibility.… But let’s have FDU keep winning and have Merrimack’s name keep getting put out there because of it.”

Gallo told CBS Sports he was “happy” to see the Knights win.

Head coach Joe Gallo of the Merrimack Warriors during the game against the St. John's Red Storm at Carnesecca Arena on Nov. 7, 2022 in the Queens, New York.

Fairleigh Dickinson became the second No. 16 seed to do the unthinkable and upset a No. 1 seed. UMBC was the first to accomplish the feat. The Retrievers beat Virginia in 2018.

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