If you told me a week ago that I’d be writing an article about the Florida Atlantic University OWls in the March madness Sweet Sixteen, I’d have laughed in your face.
That’s not to give any disrespect to a capable team. They just weren’t on my radar as a deep-run NCAA TOurnament threat, and I suspect most bracket bettors felt the same.
March Madness is a time to expect the unexpected, though, and Florida Atlantic is living up to that motto. The Owls face the Tennessee Volunteers this week in the hopes of hooting their way to the Elite Eight. Can they do it?
Talk about a nail biter to tip off FAU's historic March Madness run.
The Florida Atlantic Owls first faced the Memphis Tigers. It was expected to be a close match-up, with the 8-seed Tigers given a slight edge over the Owls. And close is almost too broad a word to cover the final moments of the game. FAU and Memphis traded baskets, keeping the race tight down to the wire.
With 2.5 seconds left on the clock, Nicholas Boyd drained a floater and put the Owls up by a single point. The remaining seconds ran out without a response from Memphis, bringing FAU to the round of 32 with a 66-65 narrow upset.
An adjacent upset made FAU’s next game all the more winnable. Purdue fell to the 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson Knights in a massive surprise. That put the Knights firmly in the sights of the Owls, who took to the court with something to prove.
Johnell Davis led the Owls’ charge with 29 points and 12 rebounds. Alijah Martin padded the score with a cool 14 points. The Knights put forth a commendable effort, but it wasn’t enough to silence the Owls, who took the game in a 78-70 victory.
Having marched their way to the Sweet Sixteen, the FAU Owls now face their toughest opponent yet: the 4-seed Tennessee Volunteers.
Tennessee meets FAU on the heels of two wins: a three-point victory over 13-seed Louisiana in round one and a 65-52 win against 5-seed Duke in round two.
In the Duke game, Forward Olivier Nkamhoua put up a strong showing: 27 points and five rebounds across 22 minutes of play.
Both DraftKings and FanDuel favor FAU in this game. Here’s a look at the odds.
It’s hard to recommend the FAU moneyline, considering these and other sportsbooks tend to favor Tennessee. After all, the Volunteers already took out Duke, a much higher seed, in a decisive victory.
Considering all the factors and previous performance, it looks like Tennessee could easily spell the end of the road for the FAU Owls.
Still, if you’re interested in betting on the Owls, the point spread at DraftKings is enticing. At the very least, I expect FAU to keep the game somewhat close. It may not be a win, but it could be a solid alternative for FAU fans who aren’t sure if the Owls can take down the Volunteers.
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