NEW YORK — Don’t let Florida Atlantic dangle round. Memphis messed round and discovered. Fairleigh Dickinson really by no means had the legs to maintain up with the Owls, but additionally felt the results of letting the grittiest crew within the nation have time to reply. Absolutely a Rick Barnes-coached crew from a battle-tested Southeastern Convention would know higher than to twiddle its thumbs and play with itself sufficient to let FAU squeeze on by. Yup. The Owls are the East Area’s outlier, the mid-major amongst three different high-level, much-better-funded packages. And it has the prospect to outlast that trio and head to the Last 4.
Florida Atlantic’s 13-point swing in the course of Thursday’s second half in opposition to Tennessee was the game-defining stretch and a momentum-flipping masterpiece if there ever was one in the NCAA Match. It began with some informal jumpers, then a couple of 3-pointers. By the point the takeover was full, Vols’ heart Uroš Plavšić was on the market throwing unhinged ‘bows since you may as effectively get a flagrant foul at Madison Sq. Backyard in the event you don’t know when the subsequent time you’ll play once more.
Saturday’s East Area Last in opposition to Kansas State will combine a whole conflict of types. The Owls took down the Volunteers in a boxing match. They introduced the physicality to a crew that prided itself on being harder on each ends of the ground. FAU gained by unanimous determination. Kansas State beat Michigan State in a monitor meet, dictated by sprinter Markquis Nowell, who in a single evening turned the story of the NCAA Match. The Owls have thrown a strong offense, Cinderella, and a Terminator out to pasture. Why ought to the Wildcats really feel they’re resistant to no matter Kryptonite the Owls conjure up?
Is Florida Atlantic taking part in with home cash? Most likely. One basket goes in a different way in opposition to Memphis and FAU doesn’t make it out of the primary spherical. It prevented Purdue altogether. Rick Barnes was going to get in his personal method ultimately. Within the first half of its Candy 16 loss, Tennessee appeared a step extra proficient in each aspect. Within the second half? Oy vey. The Volunteers determined to eradicate themselves from the postseason. The final word opportunists which might be FAU had been comfortable to oblige.
That could be the important thing to how FAU will get it achieved in spite of everything. Take regardless of the different crew offers you and don’t give your opponent any leeway. Dusty Could’s squad has solely misplaced by double digits as soon as this season — within the Owls’ second contest of the yr on Nov. 11, over 4 months in the past. Florida Atlantic solely has two different losses on its season resume interval. It has 34 rattling wins. And attending to 35 on Saturday is totally inside attain. There’s no crew on this nation that may outclass the Owls now. Not UConn, not Alabama.
Don’t overlook Dusty Could in all of this
And if Nowell isn’t the story of the NCAA Match popping out of Thursday evening, it’s Could. FAU’s coach has outdone Penny Hardaway, Tobin Anderson, and now Rick Barnes. He’ll need to outcoach Jerome Tang on Saturday, who simply outlasted Tom Izzo. Could staying in Boca Raton previous a couple of weeks from now appears to be like much less probably with each win. There are sufficient high-level openings throughout the nation the place he might simply improve his pay by greater than 500 %. Could has a base wage of underneath $430,000 yearly. His buyout is simply $400,000. That’s chump change for an enormous college with the most popular identify on the teaching carousel wanting extra engaging by the minute.
The Owls must in some way lock him in with an enormous elevate or let him go and depend on the legacy of this run to herald a brand new coach. With most of this yr’s roster returning to FAU subsequent season, bringing in a single heck of a coach by mid-major requirements shouldn’t be arduous. Could leaving isn’t a certainty, however why would he keep when he’s in one of the best place to immediately money in from this run? If that is what he can do at a mid-major like FAU, give him a Energy Convention price range and watch the insanity.