NCAA Tournament - Florida Atlantic’s miracle run continues to program’s first Final Four
Yahoo Sports college basketball writer Nick Bromberg takes you through 9-seed Florida Atlantic’s thrilling win over 3-seed Kansas State in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament.
NICK BROMBERG: Florida Atlantic has gone from a program that never won an NCAA tournament game, to the Final Four in the span of two weeks. The Owl's beat Kansas State 79-76 Saturday night to win the East Region and head to the Final Four in Houston next weekend. FAIU was simply the better team down the stretch, as Elijah Martin scored 17 points and Brian Greenlee had 16 before he fouled out.
While Michael forest had four clutch free throws in the final minute to seal the win, the key sequence came with about three minutes to go. Less than 20 seconds after Martin hit a 3 to put the owls up 6, Kansas state's, Keyonte Johnson, got his fifth foul. Martin made two free throws to extend FAU's lead to 8, as Kansas State never led or tied the game again.
Marquis Manuel was the star again for Kansas State as he had 30 points and 12 assists, but it's also fair to wonder if he tried to do too much after a massive performance in the Sweet 16. Noel took 21 shots while no other Kansas State player took more than 11. Johnson spent much of the game in foul trouble and played just 18 minutes. He finished with 9 points and attempted just seven shots.
Florida Atlantic's run through the NCAA tournament is reminiscent of the tournament performances by VCU and George Mason earlier in the 2000s, and there's no reason to think the Owl's couldn't make it to the national title game in a wide open left side of the bracket. At 35 in 3, FAU was clearly very under seeded at number nine in the East, and should hopefully be a reminder for the selection committee to not devalue stellar teams from outside the Power Five conferences ahead of Selection Sunday.