Advertisement

5 things to know about Florida Atlantic’s Elite 8 opponent: Kansas State

Only the Kansas State Wildcats stand between Florida Atlantic basketball and the highest stage of Division I college basketball.

The No. 9 seed Owls (34-3) will face the No. 3 seed Wildcats (26-9) on Saturday in Madison Square Garden in New York City. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:09 p.m. with a TBS broadcast.

First-year head coach Jerome Tang led Kansas State over No. 7 seed Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen on Thursday prior to the Owls’ upset over Tennessee.

Live updates: The latest from Florida Atlantic vs. Kansas State

Dream Run:Florida Atlantic Owls right where they believe they belong, in the Elite 8 | D'Angelo

FAU vs. Kansas State predictions:Who do basketball experts think will win?

Here are five things to know about the Wildcats ahead of the Elite Eight matchup:

Game of the NCAA Tournament vs. Michigan State

The Wildcats’ 98-93 overtime victory over Michigan State has earned acclaim as a potential “Game of the Tournament” due to its high-scoring, dramatic finish.

Point guard Markquis Nowell recorded one of the best individual performances in NCAA Tournament history with 20 points and a tournament-record 19 assists.

Nowell capped the overtime finish by throwing an alley-oop to a teammate in the final minute before forcing a steal on the Spartans’ final possession and hitting a layup as time expired.

Markquis Nowell is a dynamic threat

Kansas State guard Markquis Nowell set an NCAA Tournament record with 19 assists against Michigan State.
Kansas State guard Markquis Nowell set an NCAA Tournament record with 19 assists against Michigan State.

All eyes from FAU are sure to be on the 5-foot-8 point guard from Harlem, New York.

Nowell averages 17.2 points and 8.1 assists per game to lead the Wildcats’ offensive attack as a scorer and facilitator for his teammates.

He’s a rising hometown star fresh off a historic performance and playing in front of friends and family from around the New York City area.

Keyontae Johnson rises again

Kansas State's Keyontae Johnson throws down an alley oop in overtime against Michigan State.
Kansas State's Keyontae Johnson throws down an alley oop in overtime against Michigan State.

Former Florida basketball star Keyontae Johnson has become one of the tournament’s best stories with his return to stardom with Kansas State.

Johnson’s career with the Gators ended after collapsing in a December 2020 game against Florida State in Tallahassee.

While he recovered over the next two years and celebrated Senior Day activities with the Gators in 2022, Johnson was not able to resume his playing career with the Gators. He entered the transfer portal after the season.

At Kansas State, Johnson has emerged as a star, averaging a team-high 17.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He was a First Team All-Big 12 selection and was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.

Has Kansas State ever been to the Final Four?

Mar 23, 2023; New York, NY, USA;  Kansas State Wildcats head coach Jerome Tang watches from the sideline against the Michigan State Spartans in the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2023; New York, NY, USA; Kansas State Wildcats head coach Jerome Tang watches from the sideline against the Michigan State Spartans in the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State is making its 14th all-time appearance in the Elite Eight and the first since 2018. The Wildcats have advanced to the Final Four just four times, most recently in 1964.

In a tournament coincidence, Kansas State’s last Elite Eight appearance ended with a loss to Loyola Chicago, a tournament Cinderella who defeated Tennessee in the Round of 32.

FAU defeated Tennessee 62-55 on Thursday in the Sweet Sixteen.

Kansas State vs. FAU history

Saturday’s contest will be the first-ever matchup between Kansas State and Florida Atlantic University in men’s basketball.

The Owls are 1-7 all-time against Big 12 opponents. FAU’s lone win came against Oklahoma State with an 83-81 victory in Stillwater on Dec. 1, 1998.

Eric J. Wallace can be reached at ejwallace@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Kansas State faces FAU basketball in March Madness: 5 things to know