March Madness has been frustrating for Purdue fans as PNW, West Lafayette make early exits


Early exits by PNW and West Lafayette made this March Madness heartbreaking for Purdue fans. (Pexel photo by Markus Spiske)

Purdue fans looking for March Madness magic got their hearts broken as both PNW and Purdue-West Lafayette made early exits from their respective tournaments.

PNW’s men’s Pride basketball team was eliminated on March 1, during the first round of GLIAC conference playoffs. The team, making its first post-season appearance since the COVID pandemic, lost to Ferris State University 79-69.  Ferris, with a 23-7 season record, had been favored. 

Meanwhile, Purdue West Lafayette, the number 1 seeded team in the country, was toppled in round one by Fairleigh Dickinson, which became just the second 16th seeded team to winwith a game in March Madness competition. Fairleigh Dickinson went on to lose to Florida Atlantic on March 19.

Despite the early losses, PNW players were upbeat about having competed at GLIAC. 

“The GLIAC tournament is a lot of fun to be a part of,” said Alou Dillon, a forward on the men’s Pride team. “There is a ton of energy being brought from the fans, coaches, and the players. The energy adds to the atmosphere, excitement, and intensity of the game.” 

Dillon, a PNW graduate student who previously played at Winona State, has been to the GLIAC playoffs before and has a healthy respect for the skills shown there. 

“We have really talented players in our conference as well that will make the tournament really worth watching,” he said. “This league has had a few players play professionally after as well. That speaks a lot about how intense the GLIAC tournament actually is.”

Coaches believe the GLIAC conference and tournament are very competitive.

“I believe this conference is one of the best conferences around the country,” said Boomer Roberts, head coach of the men’s basketball team. “The GLIAC tournament is filled with excitement and high-level basketball. It is a great atmosphere to be a part of, the fans ensure that. It’s a warzone on the court come tournament time. You never know what will happen in the GLIAC tournament.”

Three GLIAC teams — Northern Michigan, Ferris State and Parkside — are among the field of 64 that will compete in the 2023 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship. Parkside was eliminated in round one, losing to Missouri-St. Louis. Ferris State and Northern Michigan exited in round two of play.  Ferris State was toppled by Missouri-St. Louis and Northern Michigan lost to McKendree.