St. Peter’s Historic Run in this Year’s March Madness

How a little school from Jersey City is making national headlines.


Up until the 2022 March Madness Tournament, there have only ever been 2 other 15 seeds to make it to the sweet sixteen. Those are the Cinderella stories of Florida Gulf Coast in 2013 and Oral Roberts last year. This year, that list adds a new member in St. Peter’s, a small private Jesuit University in Jersey City, New Jersey. Most people in Jersey have never even heard of this University that now is making national headlines in the college basketball world. Pictures and videos of the university’s home gym, dorms, and campus have gone viral on social media, showing the David of a school who was able to take down a Goliath like Kentucky, in the first round of the tournament. St. Peter’s has 3,400 students(undergraduate and graduate) in total, just showing how small the school is. Think of like, College of Charleston, but 10 times smaller and not as nice. But somehow, despite all the odds and no ranked recruits, this small team has earned their way into the Sweet 16 with some of the toughest and top teams in the nation. 

View from the high school-like gym of St. Peter’s.

To secure your first-ever “Big Dance” win and have it be a number 2 seed and basketball powerhouse in Kentucky is quite the accomplishment. Coming into the tournament, St. Peter’s was an 18.5 point underdog to Kentucky, as many expected a blowout game in the first round. However, St. Peter’s was about to bust almost everyone’s brackets in the first round of the tournament. It might have been a misclick, but I did pick St. Peter’s to beat Kentucky in one of my brackets. Daryl Banks III would help propel the 15 seed against Kentucky with an impressive 27 points. Additionally, Doug Edert finished with 20 points of his own, being a big part of why the “Peacocks” are still alive. For Kentucky fans, the 85-79 loss to St. Peter’s was something that seemed unimaginable at the start of the tournament. However, this is March Madness, and no matter how good a team is or how many top recruits they have, anything can happen in March. No one is safe. 

Dough Edert celebrating after the win over Kentucky.

Fresh off the huge upset over Kentucky, St. Peter’s would now face their second consecutive opponent from the state of Kentucky, in Murray State. Led by 3-time MAAC defensive player of the year, KC Ndefo racked up 17 points, ten rebounds, and 6 blocks for Saint Peter’s on the night to help lead them past Murray State. This huge win over another higher-seeded opponent would snap their 21-game winning streak heading into the tournament. Murray State, which was once NBA star, Ja Morant’s college team, was no easy feat for the Peacocks. Murray State has had past success in the tournament in 2019, upsetting Marquette, but falling short of the sweet 16. But, the Racers were no match for the small school out of the MAAC, falling short 70-60 at the end of the game. Another solid performance from Doug Edert off the bench with 13 points would prove helpful in knocking off another strong team in this year’s tournament. 

KC Ndefo throwing it down against Murray State.

Another special aspect of this St. Peter’s team is that it’s the first men’s basketball team from New Jesery to make the sweet 16 since Seton Hall in 2000, led by current Peacock’s baskteball coach, Shaheen Halloway. Halloway would carry the team against top seeded opponents in Oregon and 2nd seed Temple, but they would fall short to Oklahoma St. on there way to the Elite 8. 22 years later, Halloway finds himself in the same position, but this time as a coach of his own New Jesery team. St. Peter’s next challenge is against Purdue, which is the top-seeded team out of the BIG 10 this year. Tip off is at 7:09 pm on Friday 3/25. Purdue is led by one the nation’s best guards in Jaden Ivey, who is a projected lottery pick in this years NBA draft. The Boilermakers are experienced, physical, big, and athletic, but St. Peter’s isn’t going to go down with a fight. Halloway believes in his guys because of the type of struggles and challenges they have gone through to get to where they are. ​​“These guys came out here on a mission,” said Saint Peter’s coach Shaheen Holloway. “Everybody keeps saying ‘we can’t do this, we can’t do that, we don’t have this, we don’t have that.’ We have heart, and that’s the only thing that matters.”

Shaheen Halloway’s game-winning layup against Oregon in 2000 to get Seton Hall on to the round of 32 teams.

This next game for the Peacocks is going to come down to containing Jaden Ivey and knocking down big-time threes. Anyone in march madness can win, no matter how small of a school they are, as long as they can outshoot their opponent from the perimeter. And so far, St. Peter’s has done that. Friday night will be another huge challenge for the Peacocks, but for a team that has only faced challenges their whole season, this is no different as they have nothing to lose.