Prior to this season, the Florida Atlantic Owls had only ever made it to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament just once in their 30-year history. The last appearance came back in 2002 when FAU lost in the first round.
But head coach Dusty May has sparked a slow and steady turnaround that is paying major dividends this year, leading a 34-3 record to get them into the Elite Eight. Not even Markquis Nowell and the three-seeded Kansas State Jayhawks could quiet the Owls.
Playing in front of an electric crowd at Madison Square Garden, the Owls managed to eliminate the Wildcats from the tournament, advancing to the Final Four for the first time in Florida Atlantic’s history.
It took a complete team effort, with four starts scoring in double figures. Sophomore guard Alijah Martin led the way for FAU with 17 points. But 7-foot-1 center Vladislav Goldin’s performance cannot go unnoticed either, as the Russian chipped in 14 points, 13 rebounds (six offensive), and two blocks.
On the opposite side, Nowell provided many highlight-reel-worthy plays on his way to scoring a game-high 30 points, but it also came on 21 shots in an inefficient night for the senior guard.
While Nowell and Kansas State have no choice but to pack their bags, FAU is headed to the Final Four as they await the winners of this weekend’s games. The Owls will be back in action next Saturday at NRG Stadium, where they look to continue their improbable run during March Madness.