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10 things to know about Saint Peter’s basketball in the NCAA tournament

The Peacocks became the third 15-seed to make the Sweet 16. Learn more about not only the basketball program but the university behind the run.

Syndication: The Courier-Journal Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

NCAA tournament history was made in Indianapolis this past weekend. Saint Peter’s upset two higher seeds, becoming the first team from New Jersey since 2000 and third 15-seed ever to make the Sweet 16.

To open the tournament, the Peacocks upset two-seed Kentucky, becoming the tenth 15-seed to ever win its first-round game. They followed that up with another win against a Bluegrass state opponent, Murray State, in the Round of 32 on Saturday.

As they enter the second weekend, much is still unknown about the little program in Jersey City, New Jersey which won its first NCAA tournament game over the long weekend.

Our very own, Nick Lorensen did some digging to tell you more about not only the program but the university. Reminder, it is “Saint Peter’s” not “St.Peter’s”.

Ten Things To Know About Saint Peter’s:

The Basics: Saint Peter’s University was founded in 1872 by the Society of Jesus. Currently one of 28 Jesuit institutions of higher education in the United States, 3,553 students attend and they are the only D1 school in Jersey City, New Jersey. Their athletic department has 14 athletic programs.

NCAA tournament history: The Peacocks are the third 15-seed to make the Sweet 16 in tournament history. This is not their first NCAA tournament appearance nor their first time as a 15-seed. In 1995, they were matched up against mighty UMass in a 2-15 game, falling to the Minutemen. Its last appearance came in 2011 as they lost to Purdue by 22. The Peacocks have made the NCAA tournament four times.

Head coach Shaheen Holloway: Now in his fourth season at Saint Peter’s, Holloway has built the Peacocks into a powerhouse program in the MAAC. This was their third consecutive season finishing in the top three of the league but its only time advancing to the MAAC tournament finals under Holloway. Himself, Holloway has NCAA tournament history. He was a member of the last team from the state of New Jersey to make the second weekend, starting every game while averaging 13.2 points per game in 2000.

Saint Peter’s basketball team: Saint Peter’s is known for its defense. Currently ranked 28th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, the Peacocks finished in the top 65 of that ranking last season too. They are led by the three-time MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, KC Ndefo, who was last season’s block king. Six of its players are from either New York or New Jersey with five others being from African countries. The Drame brothers are from Mali and its three tallest players are either from Senegal or the Central African Republic.

Run Baby Run Arena: Long voted the worst arena in college basketball, the Yanitelli Center (now Run Baby Run Arena) opened in 1975. On July 22nd, 2020, it was announced that a $5,000,000 grant was given to the university to renovate the arena. Because of this, the Peacocks played their home games last season at New Jersey City University. They reopened the Yanitelli Center this season against NJCU, honoring the 1967-68 basketball team who made the NIT semifinals with the name change to “Run Baby Run Arena”.

Non-Conference: The Peacocks finished the non-conference with a 2-5 record. They snuck by a good LIU team and lost to VCU by three in the season-opener.

Conference Season: For the second time in three seasons, Saint Peter’s has finished in second place on the MAAC. They finished the regular season winning four straight wins but were swept by regular-season champion, Iona. Its final three games were all double-digit victories.

MAAC Tournament: As per usual, the MAAC tournament was a wild one. The 11th-seeded Quinnipiac Bobcats made a run to the semifinals, dominating a young Marist team in the first round. On the other side of the bracket, Rick Pitino led Iona fell to the ninth-seeded Rider Broncs in the quarterfinals. For Saint Peter’s, it was a cakewalk. They won their first two games by double digits, going on and dominating Monmouth on the defensive end in the finals.

SEC History: The Peacocks’ win over #2 Kentucky on Thursday was not the first that they have beaten an SEC school. In its only matchup against South Carolina in 1990, they beat the Gamecocks by a score of 57-56. Its most recent win against an SEC institution came in 2010 as the Peacocks beat Alabama in the U.S. Virgin Islands, 50-49. They are 2-0 against the Crimson Tide all-time.

Last Team from New Jersey to make Sweet 16: It has been since the year 2000 that a team from New Jersey has made the second weekend of the NCAA tournament and even longer since its last Sweet 16 win. Leading the last Sweet 16 team was Saint Peter’s head coach, Shaheen Holloway. They fell to Oklahoma State by a score of 68-66.