As Saint Peter’s gears up for Sweet 16, sports psychologist reveals why fans support Peacocks

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Saint Peter’s will face Purdue in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on Friday night as the Peacocks hope to write the next chapter in their Cinderella story.

The Peacocks, who entered the tournament as Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament champions and the tournament’s No. 15 seed, upset Kentucky and Murray State en route to the regional semifinal. The run galvanized college basketball fans.

According to Twitter data provided to Fox News Digital, tweets using the peacock emoji were up 99% from the previous week and the official team hashtag #StrutUp was tweeted 10.6 times more in March than when they were playing in the regular season in February. The data also indicates that the school is the fifth most mentioned school in the men’s tournament behind Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and the school they parenthetically defeated, Kentucky.

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Saint Peter Peacocks guard Doug Edert (25) reacts after a play against the Kentucky Wildcats at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on March 17, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
(Robert Goddin – USA TODAY Sports)

Dr. Chelsi Day, a sports psychologist at Ohio State University and former NCAA Division I diver at the University of Miami, said Fox News Digital fans can relate to the little guy taking on a powerful school, making the Peacocks and the team easy to root for. for this far in the tournament.

“Kentucky has been a basketball powerhouse for a long time. It’s the sport I’d say they’re best known for. So you have this team with a storied history that was taken down by a team, I would say most of us don’t have ‘I don’t know where St. Peter is and I’ve never heard of it,'” Day said. “And they come in and they don’t just win, they win. And beyond that, we consider it a fluke. It’s exciting. Great job. This team that nobody knows came in and beat Kentucky and then they keep winning and keep winning a lot.”

“I think it’s this ongoing story that we can relate to the little guy,” Day continued. “We can relate to the person who doesn’t always win. And then seeing them win again, continuing to defy the odds and exceeding expectations, continues to give us hope that it can be more than a fluke. It can be more than something you just wrote that we’re capable of, they’re capable of and so it’s really exciting to support them and have that attitude, let’s see what they can do. Let’s see how far they can go.

SAINT PETER’S CAPTIVATE THE NATION IN AN UNLIKELY RACE OF MARS MADNESS, SAYS FRAN FRASCHILLA

Saint Peter Peacocks head coach Shaheen Holloway reacts after defeating the Kentucky Wildcats in the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on March 17, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Saint Peter Peacocks head coach Shaheen Holloway reacts after defeating the Kentucky Wildcats in the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on March 17, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
(Robert Goddin – USA TODAY Sports)

Saint Peter’s is playing on a stage the school has never been on before, let alone the players who have helped the Peacocks get this far. This is only the school’s fourth time in the men’s basketball tournament and the overtime win over Kentucky was their first win in school history.

With the pressure potentially mounting, Day told Fox News Digital that players feeling that extra weight on their shoulders should know that the proof of their success is already there. She emphasized the “nothing to lose mentality”.

“It definitely depends on the athlete. When I work with athletes, I think you have two choices. You can get caught up in the pressure of ‘We beat those teams, oh my God, we have to keep doing that. Especially if you say we have to keep outperforming, or if the mindset in which I prefer to coach athletes is not to lose anything. You have already defied the odds. You have already exceeded expectations. We have proven our skills. . We have proof. There’s no one left who can discredit the talent we have because we’ve shown it on the biggest stage,” she said. “Let’s go out there and show people what we can do. . Let’s use this to build confidence because we know we are capable. We have shown you that we are capable. Let’s go and do what we know how Let’s take that mentality of having nothing to lose, which again can be lost very easily when we start to question ourselves and have the impostor syndrome of “do we belong here? “Can we start again?

“I think you often see athletes swaying one way or the other and a lot of that comes from a coaching mentality of a programmatic mentality. But we’re better served, we do better if we can maintain that ‘yes, we knew we could do it, let’s keep going out there and doing it.'”

SAINT PETER’S IMPROBABLE MARCH MADNESS RUN GATHERED THE COMMUNITY, EX-PEACOCKS STARS SAY

If players are starting to feel too caught up in the craziness that comes with the game in March, Day has offered some advice.

“It all comes down to being in the moment. It comes down to controlling what you can control and the only thing we can control is the space right in front of us and what’s going on in our minds. We can’t control what people say about us. We can’t control how people behave towards us,” she said.

“And so, it’s about connecting and saying ‘What can I control at this exact moment? If I feel anxious, nervous or overexcited, what can I do at that moment? Can I do a pleasant activity? Can I listen to a meditation track? Can I breathe deeply or do a healthy distraction? How can I call myself into my body right now so I can focus on the things I can control and do? And it’s going to be hard not to, but every time we notice, you know, our cells are being driven into hysteria, we recognize it (like) ‘Oh, I caught myself doing this, and I come right back into this present moment and focus on the things I can handle right now.'”

An image of a peacock adorns the Saint Peter's University Recreation Center in Jersey City, New Jersey on Monday, March 21, 2022.

An image of a peacock adorns the Saint Peter’s University Recreation Center in Jersey City, New Jersey on Monday, March 21, 2022.
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Friday night’s Saint Peter’s Sweet 16 game will take place about 95 miles southwest of the university – at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. While New Jerseyans may argue about the differences between North and South Jersey (and whether Central Jersey exists), Day said traveling less and playing closer to home could work wonders for an athlete.

“I think travel has an impact on the body and when we are tired or exhausted or uncertain our psychological and emotional endurance is also reduced. The less we travel the better off we are everywhere. So there will be a bit of that said Day.

“I also think when we get closer there’s a lot of hometown energy. You feel like you’re playing for your community, even though you’re just outside of your community, you still have the feel like you’re playing for your region. Your region is showing up for you. You feel like you have that support versus maybe going to neutral or hostile territory. I think it can energize you if you adopt.

A victory for Saint Peter’s could move the team into the Elite Eight. But Purdue is no slouch.

Jaden Ivey and Trevion Williams of Purdue celebrate during the second half of an NCAA College Basketball Tournament second round game against Texas on Sunday, March 20, 2022 in Milwaukee.  Purdue won 81-71.

Jaden Ivey and Trevion Williams of Purdue celebrate during the second half of an NCAA College Basketball Tournament second round game against Texas on Sunday, March 20, 2022 in Milwaukee. Purdue won 81-71.
(AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

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The Boilermakers have been in or near the Top 5 of the Associated Press Top 25 rankings for most of the season. Purdue is coming off wins over Yale and Texas to qualify for the Sweet 16. Jaden Ivey, Zach Edy, Trevion Williams and Sasha Stefanovic are all averaging over 10 points per game.

Will the clock strike midnight at the Peacocks? Tipping is scheduled for 7:09 p.m. ET Friday night.

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