OPINION: Saint Peter’s NCAA Tournament run shows the magic of March Madness


Brian Hayes

Intrust Bank Arena all done up for March Madness.

After consecutive upsets at the start of March Madness, a tiny private Jesuit university from Jersey City, New Jersey became the darlings of the field on the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. 

Before Thursday, few in America had never heard of Saint Peters but after shocking No. 2-seed Kentucky in overtime in Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament, suddenly this small school was in the national spotlight. Then the Peacocks downed No. 7-seeded Murray State, one of the nation’s best mid-major programs and winners of 21 straight games this season. 

Saint Peters is the third ever 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16. Oral Roberts and Florida Gulf Coast had similar runs in previous years but the Peacocks’ story feels different. Oral Roberts had a similar run last year, but it had a longer resume of NCAA Tournament history. Likewise, Florida Gulf Coast mesmerized fans with its exciting play, but Saint Peter’s might be the tournament’s craziest Cinderella story ever. 

The odds of this small school from New Jersey making it this far were slim to say the least. Just 1.53% of all brackets correctly picked the Peacocks to advance to the Sweet 16. As they head down to play No. 3 seed Purdue next Friday, many, including myself, are still in shock of their magical run to this point.

Saint Peter’s has an enrollment of just over 3,000 students.  They play in a recently renovated rundown arena called ‘Run Baby Run’ that only seats 3,200 people. The program’s entire basketball budget, the lowest among all tournament teams in the field, is five-times less than John Calipari’s yearly salary at Kentucky.

They didn’t even win their conference in the regular season, needing Iona, who beat Saint Peters twice this season, to get upset in the MAAC Tournament to pave their path to the Big Dance.

Their overtime thriller against Kentucky showcased your typical David versus Goliath matchup. Kentucky’s Rupp Arena has a capacity of 20,545, which is 17,345 more than Saint Peter’s. The Wildcats also had a loaded roster which featured three five-star recruits, along with Oscar Tshiebwe. 

Saint Peter’s run is what makes the madness of March and this tournament so special. Their story is unique because out of nowhere an underdog no one had ever heard of has captured America’s attention.

Whether or not Saint Peter’s run continues farther into the tournament, it’ll still go down in history. They are one of the best Cinderella stories that have ever come from March Madness and will be remembered for years to come.