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Fairleigh Dickinson, Barely in the N.C.A.A. Tournament, Topples Purdue in a Shocker

Purdue frequently let F.D.U.’s rotation of small guards, who entered and exited the game like a hockey team, slide around screens for easy looks at the basket. Still, F.D.U., which led for the majority of the game, was inconsistent, shooting less than 40 percent.

But its defense, including regular full-court presses and double-teaming of Edey, flummoxed Purdue’s elaborately designed offense, which runs more than 250 plays.

“A lot of times they would have one dude guarding from behind and one dude basically sitting in my lap,” Edey, the likely national player of the year, said after the game, frustrated. He finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds, a typically commanding stat line that felt meaningless on Friday night.

“It stings,” said Matt Painter, Purdue’s coach since 2005. “They played better than we did,” he added. “They coached better than we did.”

“They were fabulous,” Painter said.

This was the third year in a row that Purdue lost to a double-digit seed in the N.C.A.A. tournament, a sign that Friday’s defeat may not have been entirely a fluke. But its loss to F.D.U. amounted to the most serious failure yet of a system that prioritizes local, unheralded recruits without the N.B.A. hype of top-ranked players drawn to other college basketball powers. Focused on developing players over several years, Purdue has mostly rejected the transfer portal that other top programs have traded on to deepen their rosters.

That idea has been stubborn point of pride for Painter, who has made it to the round of 16 six times but has never advanced to the Final Four. His group this season, he said on Friday, had “done things the right way.”

After seven total weeks ranked as the nation’s top team this season, the second year in a row the program had reached that top spot, Purdue’s players believed they were positioned to win the national championship. Mason Gillis, a starting forward, said as much on Thursday as his team prepared for F.D.U. “We have the pieces,” he said confidently.

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