The ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic Owls are a Final Four team.
Alijah Martin and FAU withstood another massive game by Kansas State’s Markquis Nowell and brushed off a deficit in the final eight minutes to beat the Wildcats 79-76 on Saturday night.
FAU (35-3), making just its second appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first since 2002, won the East Region and will head to Houston to play the winner of Sunday’s South Region final between Creighton and San Diego State.
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“I expect the prognosticators to pick us fifth in the Final Four,” fifth-year FAU coach Dusty May said.
In one of the most unpredictable NCAA Tournaments ever — all four No. 1 seeds were out by the Elite Eight — the Owls from Conference USA typify the madness.
This season, the winningest team in Division I had never won an NCAA Tournament game before ripping off four straight, all by single digits, to become the first No. 9 seed to reach the Final Four since Wichita State in 2013. The Owls are the third No. 9 to get that far since seeding began in 1979.
The Owls put together four straight winning records under May before breaking through with a season for the ages that nobody saw coming. They were picked fifth in the C-USA preseason coaches’ poll.
Florida Atlantic is a combined 0-3 against San Diego State (0-2) and Creighton.
AP contributed to this recap