The 9th-seeded Florida Atlantic Owls look to continue their surprising run when they face off against the 3rd-seeded Kansas State Wildcats Saturday in the East Region Elite 8 inside famed Madison Square Garden at New York, New York. They jump it up at 6:09 pm and the Wildcats are a 3 1/2 point favorite in what should be a very entertaining and fun game to watch.
The Owls (34-3) have had a wonderful season and their run has come as a surprise to everyone outside their locker room, but not the players and the coaching staff. The Owls beat the Tennessee Vols at their own game, as they smothered them and played lights-out defense in a 62-55 win in the Sweet 16. They did a fantastic job playing both ends of the floor and limiting the second-chance opportunities of the Vols.
They were led by sophomore guard Johnell Davis, who netted 15 points on 3-of-9 shooting from the floor in the win. As a whole offensive unit, the Owls are paced by Davis who averages just under 14 a game but he also gets some help from teammate and fellow guard Alijah Martin, who contributes 13 points to go along with six rebounds and just under three assists per contest.
Florida Atlantic University loves to get up and down the floor but they know how to play tight defense and against Kansas State they will have to try to shut down their dynamic guards if they are to pull off another upset en route to the Final Four. They connect on 47% from the floor, including 37% from beyond the arc.
The Wildcats (26-9) pulled off a shocking upset over the Michigan State Spartans in the Sweet 16 in a game for the ages, 98-93, in overtime and they have one player to thank for that. Guard Markquis Nowell was a man on fire and he was simply brilliant as the guard broke the NCAA Tournament record for assists in a game with 19 — yes 19 — as Kansas State pulled off the shower in an epic thriller. He added 20 points on 7-of-18 but it almost seemed as an afterthought because of how well he got his teammates involved.
He was the floor general from the opening tip and even after rolling up his ankle, he was able to shake that off and put on a performance for the ages as the Wildcats made a last gasp defensive stand to shock the Spartans. If Kansas State gets that same type of output from Nowell this game will not be close. Look for him to carry the load and get senior forward Keyontae Johnson into the mix. Johnson chipped in with 22 points and six boards in the win over Michigan State.
The Wildcats are 3-2 in their last five games and 3-2 in their last five games against the number and 5-6 in their road games against the spread but just have seen the totals go over in two of their last five games and eight of their last 21 games at home.
The Owls are 5-0 in their last five games and 3-2 in their last five games against the number, but just 9-5 in their road games against the number. The totals have gone over in two of their last five games and eight of their last 18 games at home.