• Mié. Feb 1st, 2023

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Saint Peter’s men’s basketball team became a Cinderella story for all time.

At the start of Saint Peter’s 2021-2022 basketball season, less than 500 people used to attend their games.

A few months later, the team would enter the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and play in front of thousands of fans during their unprecedented run.

The Peacocks shocked the sports world by becoming the first No. 15 seed to advance to the Elite Eight. They were also looking to make more history with a berth in the Final Four. Saint Peter’s ultimately came up short in the semi-final round of the 83-year-old tournament, but managed to inspire fans across the country rooting for the underdog.

Here’s a look back at the Peacocks’ incredible career.

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NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Round 1 vs. No. 2 Kentucky

Saint Peter’s Peacocks guard Matthew Lee walks past Kentucky Wildcats guard Sahvir Wheeler on March 17, 2022, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
(Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The No. 15 seed Peacocks’ first test in the tournament came against the No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats. Saint Peter guard Daryl Banks III led the way with 27 points as the underdog Peacocks pulled off the improbable 85-79 upset in overtime.

The victory seemed to symbolize what makes March Madness unique. Saint Peter’s basketball budget is far less than Kentucky head coach John Calipari’s annual salary. A small Jesuit school in New Jersey was able to take down one of college basketball’s perennial blue bloods. Only nine times in tournament history has a No. 15 seed defeated a No. 2 seed since the tournament expanded in 1985.

Round 2 of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament vs. No. 7 Murray State

Saint Peter's players, from left, Fousseyni Drame, Doug Edert and KC Ndefo celebrate their victory over the Murray State Racers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on March 19, 2022 in Indianapolis.

Saint Peter’s players, from left, Fousseyni Drame, Doug Edert and KC Ndefo celebrate their victory over the Murray State Racers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on March 19, 2022 in Indianapolis.
(Jamie Sabau/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Just two days later, Saint Peter’s broke the hearts of Kentuckians yet again by defeating the No. 7 seed Murray State Racers 70-60 in the second round of the tournament.

The Peacocks earned a spot in the Sweet 16. The last time a 15 seed made it to the regional semifinal was in 2021 when Oral Roberts accomplished the feat. Florida Gulf Coast in 2013 is the only other 15 seed to play in the regional semifinal.

Murray State entered the game riding a 21-game winning streak. The Racers had an impressive season and had only suffered three losses before falling to Saint Peter’s in the tournament.

Sweet Sixteen vs. Number 3 Purdue

KC Ndefo of the St. Peter's Peacocks dribbles the ball as Mason Gillis of the Purdue Boilermakers defends at the Wells Fargo Center on March 25, 2022 in Philadelphia.

KC Ndefo of the St. Peter’s Peacocks dribbles the ball as Mason Gillis of the Purdue Boilermakers defends at the Wells Fargo Center on March 25, 2022 in Philadelphia.
(Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Supporters of the Underdog program took planes, trains and automobiles from New Jersey to Philadelphia to watch their team compete in the Sweet 16.

The fans were rewarded with a historic victory. The Peacocks defeated the third seed Purdue Boilermakers 67-64 and advanced to the Elite Eight. Saint Peter’s became the first No. 15 seed to reach a regional final.

The crowd inside the Wells Fargo Center erupted when Daryl Banks III hit a jump shot to tie the game at 57-5. Banks went on to score the game-going basket to lead the Peacocks to victory.

At this point in the tournament, San Pedro seemed accustomed to executing in big moments.

The Elite Eight vs. No. 8 North Carolina

Clarence Rupert waves to the crowd after the St. Peter's Peacocks were defeated by the North Carolina Tar Heels 69-49 in the Elite Eight round game of the NCAA tournament at the Wells Fargo Center on March 27, 2022 in Philadelphia.

Clarence Rupert waves to the crowd after the St. Peter’s Peacocks were defeated by the North Carolina Tar Heels 69-49 in the Elite Eight round game of the NCAA tournament at the Wells Fargo Center on March 27, 2022 in Philadelphia.
(Patricio Smith/Getty Images)

The eighth-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels took an early lead and ended Saint Peter’s sensational tournament run.

The Peacocks trailed from the opening point of the game and failed to muster a single point in the first four minutes of the contest. San Pedro went to the locker room at halftime down 38-19.

Saint Peter’s were unable to mount a second half comeback and were ultimately beaten 49-69.

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For just under two weeks, the San Pedro men’s basketball team did the unthinkable. They captured hearts and minds across the country, changed programs with far more resources, and made history.

After the disappointing loss to North Carolina, the team retreated to the locker room, boarded a bus back to campus, and returned to relative obscurity.

A lot will change for the team for the 2022-2023 season, but their magical March Madness run won’t be forgotten anytime soon.