In one of the greatest Cinderella stories of all time, the 15-seeded Saint Peter’s Peacocks have shocked the college basketball world, not once, not twice, but three times. After pulling a stunning upset in the first round over blue-blood 2-seeded Kentucky, the Peacocks raced past 7-seeded Murray State en route to the Sweet 16. If the run ended there, it would still have been incredible, improbable, and historic. It was already one of the most unlikely stories in the history of the NCAA Tournament and then they did something no 15-seed has ever done: won in the Sweet 16 over 3-seed Purdue and moved on to the Elite Eight. The first ever 15-seed to advance to the Elite Eight is the Saint Peter’s Peacocks.
Let’s take a look at just how unlikely the Saint Peter’s story really is in NCAA Tournament history. The odds of a 15-seed beating a 2-seed in the first round are miniscule. They became just the 10th team to accomplish the feat in the 37 years of a 64-team field, compared to 138 losses. The odds of the 15-seed advancing to the 2nd game is just 6.3%. Then taking it one step further, in the round of 32, the odds of a 15-seed making the Sweet 16 before the tournament starts are 1.4%. The Peacocks became just the 3rd 15-seed to make the Sweet 16. That alone puts them in an elite category and cements their place in history. Taking it one step further, pre-tournament there was a 0.0% chance of Saint Peter’s making the Elite Eight because it had never been done. Now, after upsetting 3-seed Purdue, Saint Peter’s is in a tier unlike any team in history and they aren’t satisfied.
The drive and determination of the David vs Goliath story is inspiring. In their post game press conference following the win over Purdue, guard Doug Ebert said “We’re happy… We aren’t satisfied.” The team doesn’t play like they’re just happy to advance this far, the Peacocks are playing to win it all. The little program from Jersey City, NJ is on the biggest stage and performing with the bright lights shining. Why shouldn’t they be confident? They’ve taken down 3 very strong teams thus far and haven’t shown signs of slowing down. Their defensive effort has been strong and their head coach Shaheen Holloway believes they have another level they can reach. If that’s true, we could be talking about this team setting even more “firsts” over the next few days.
When looking at finances, Saint Peter’s is at an incredible disadvantage compared to every other team. Their 2019 men’s basketball operating expenses were just over $250,000, which is miniscule in college basketball. That number is 60% of Murray State’s expenses which are already small and a tiny fraction of every major program in the country. That essentially means the recruiting budget is tiny, the coach’s salary is tiny, and the facilities budget is severely lacking. They are the perfect example of money doesn’t always dictate success.
Roll on Peacocks!!