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It feels like every NCAA Tournament has at least one, unassailably fun team make a run. In 2023, one of those teams is the Florida Atlantic University Owls. The Boca Raton-based Conference USA school punched its ticket to the Elite Eight on Thursday with a thrilling 62-55 win over Tennessee. Now, they will face the Wildcats of Kansas State on Saturday.
This is only FAU’s second tournament appearance EVER, but it didn’t come in as an overwhelming underdog. Led by sophomores Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin, FAU — which finished the regular season 34-3 and 18-2 in C-USA — came into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 9 seed.
FAU has only had a basketball program since 1988, and its previous March Madness showing was as a No. 15 seed against Alabama in 2002. Despite a valiant effort, the Owls were dispatched 86-78. This year, they’ve beaten No. 8 Memphis, No. 16 Fairleigh-Dickinson, and No. 4 Tennessee. They’ll now see No. 3 Kansas State in the Elite Eight.
In a tournament so often dominated by blue-bloods, the college basketball world has begun to rally around the extremely fun Owls. Here’s what to know about FAU as it prepares for its first ever Elite Eight showdown.
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Where is Florida Atlantic located?
FAU is located in Boca Raton, Florida.
Often thought of as a vacation spot, the public school does have several satellite locations throughout Florida. It has campuses in Dania Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jupiter, Fort Pierce, and Davie.
Its enrollment is among the highest in Florida, and it had a record of an estimated 4,350 first-year students in Fall 2022.
In 2021-22, FAU’s full enrollment was an estimated 30,155, per UnivStats.
What conference is Florida Atlantic in?
Florida Atlantic competes in Conference USA, which is largely populated by smaller public schools across the South.
MORE: March Madness bracket 2023: Updated viewing details
Other schools in C-USA include North Texas, Alabama-Birmingham, Middle Tennessee, Charlotte, Rice, Western Kentucky, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, University of Texas El Paso, and University of Texas San Antonio.
This year marks the first time FAU has won C-USA, taking both the regular season title and defeating UAB in the C-USA tournament for the championship.
FAU name origin
FAU was founded in order to help meet the demand of education in South Florida. State legislature led to the school being opened in Boca Raton on July 15, 1961.
The name Owls came from the Audubon Society designated the campus an owl sanctuary in 1971. Per the FAU sports website, owls are a common sight on campus.
HISTORY OF UPSETS BY SEED:
15 vs. 2 | 14 vs. 3 | 13 vs. 4 | 12 vs. 5
Florida Atlantic NCAA Tournament history
FAU’s NCAA Tournament history is extremely brief.
Prior to this year, is had made one March Madness appearance, playing Alabama as a No. 15 seed back in 2002. FAU put up a strong fight, especially for a time when No. 15s upsetting No. 2s was less rote, but Alabama survived 86-78.
|2002||Lost first round||86-78 vs. No. 2 Alabama|