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Saint Peter's men's basketball team became a Cinderella story for the ages
December 30 2022, 08:00

At the beginning of Saint Peter's 2021-2022 basketball season, fewer than 500 people would usually show up to 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 seeking to make more history with a berth to the Final Four. Saint Peter's ultimately came up just short of the 83-year-old tournament's semifinal round, but were successful in inspiring fans around the country who root for the underdog.

Here's a look back at the Peacocks' incredible run.



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

The win 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 defeat one of college basketball's perennial bluebloods. Only nine previous times in tournament history had a No. 15 seed knocked off a No. 2 seed since the tournament expanded in 1985.

Just two short days later, Saint Peter’s broke the hearts of Kentuckians once again by knocking off 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 happened 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 on a 21-game winning streak. The Racers had an impressive season and had only suffered three loses before falling to Saint Peter's in the tournament.

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

Fans were rewarded with an historic win. The Peacocks beat third-seeded Purdue Boilermakers 67-64 and advanced to the Elite Eight. Saint Peter's become the first No. 15 seed to reach a regional final. 

The crowd inside the Wells Fargo Center erupted when Daryl Banks III hit a turnaround jump shot to tie the game at 57-all. Banks went on to score the game's go-ahead basket to lift the Peacocks to victory.

At this point in the tournament, Saint Peter's seemed accustomed to executing in big moments.

The eighth-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels jumped out to an early lead and went on to end Saint Peter's sensational run in the tournament.

The Peacocks were at a disadvantage from the game's opening tip and could not muster a single point in the first four minutes of the contest. Saint Peter's went into the locker room at halftime down 38-19. 

Saint Peter's failed to mount a second-half comeback and ultimately were defeated 49-69.

For a little less than two weeks, the Saint Peter's men's basketball team did the unthinkable. They captured hearts and mind across the nation, they upended programs with far more resources, and they made history.

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

Many things will change for the team for the 2022-2023 season, but their March Madness magical run won't soon be forgotten.