CSUF's Cinderella Story is Over; Purdue Advances in the NCAA

The Titans were knocked out of the NCAA in the first game 74-48.

The official watch party for truTV's telecast of Friday's Cal State Fullerton-Purdue NCAA men's basketball tournament game was held at BIGS Fullerton, with excited fans cheering on underdog Cal State Fullerton, but it was not meant to be.

The sports bar and grill located at 323 N. State College Blvd., a block south of the campus, opened at 8 a.m. as the East Region game from Detroit is set to begin at 9:40 a.m.

There were giveaways and opportunities to take pictures with the Big West Tournament trophy. Admission is free.

Watch parties were also held at:

-- The Bench, 3159 Yorba Linda Blvd., Fullerton;

-- Brian's Beer & Billiards, 1944 N. Placentia Ave., Fullerton;

-- Kelly's Korner Tavern, 907 E. Yorba Linda Blvd., Placentia; and

-- Yard House, 160 S. Brea Blvd., Brea.

Yard House opened at 8:30 a.m., The Bench and Brian's Beer & Billiards at 9 a.m. and Kelly's Korner Tavern at 9:30 a.m.

The Titans were knocked out of the NCAA in the first game 74-48. Unfortunately, CSUF wasn't able to shock the world with an amazing win. 

The Titans (20-11) qualified for their third tournament appearance and first since 2008 by defeating UC Irvine, 71-55, in the Big West Tournament final Saturday night at Honda Center in Anaheim, with CSUF President Framroze "Fram" Virjee joining other fans in rushing the court.

"It certainly brought me back to my playing days as a student athlete,'' Virjee said. "I have those feelings a lot as president of Cal State Fullerton, but that was a special moment indeed.''

The Titans were seeded fourth in the Big West Tournament and defeated fifth-seeded Long Beach State, top-seeded UC Davis and third-seeded UC Irvine for the championship.

"I could not be more proud to have this group of young men representing Cal State Fullerton,'' Virjee told City News Service. "Coach (Dedrique) Taylor and his staff have demonstrated and modeled patience, professionalism, respect, and selflessness, and this team now personifies those values on the court, in the classroom, and throughout our diverse Titan community.

"That means everything to me, and I don't think there's a Titan anywhere in the world who doesn't see themselves in the tenacity, courage, and character of this team.''

Virjee called Cal State Fullerton making the NCAA men's basketball tournament "a galvanizing event for our campus community.''

"It is magic, as it is when baseball goes to Omaha (for the College World Series), or when our softball, men's and women's soccer, and track and field (teams) all won their conferences last year,'' said Virjee, who became the university's president Jan. 1, succeeding Mildred Garcia, who left to become president of the Washington-based higher education association, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

"It brings us together as a Titan family. It highlights our ability to prevail even though we are often the underdog and it enhances our sense of community, which is very important for a primarily commuter campus.''

The game comes on the 40th anniversary of Cal State Fullerton's second -- and most recent -- victory in the NCAA tournament, a 75-72 upset of the University of San Francisco in a West Region semifinal on March 16, 1978.

Experts give the 15th-seeded Titans little chance of a victory Friday over the second-seeded Boilermakers (28-6), who tied for second in the 14-team Big Ten Conference.

Cal State Fullerton was a 20 1/2-point underdog. The ESPN-affiliated data prediction website gives the Titans a 2 percent chance of winning.

Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, the No. 15 seeds are 8-125 against the No. 2 seeds in first-round play, including Iona's 89-67 loss to Duke in Thursday's lone 2 vs. 15 matchup. The most recent victory by a No. 15 seed over a No. 2 seed came in 2016 when Middle Tennessee State defeated Michigan State, 80-61.

"No matter what happens in Detroit, when it comes to what's most important in higher education -- providing equitable access to it -- we've already won,'' Virjee said, citing the tournament bracket prepared by Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, with the winner of each game based on the university's lowest net price of attendance, which is defined as the total cost of attendance less all grant aid received.

Kelchen's bracket makes Cal State Fullerton the national champion of college affordability.

"Whether or not that gets our name on the national championship trophy this year remains to be seen, but it will get more than 11,000 names on college degrees this May and in my book, that's the biggest win of all,'' Virjee said.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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