COLUMN: Owls looking to be this year’s Cinderella team in a loaded East Region

With the impressive resume they’ve built leading up to the tournament, FAU poses as one of the most dangerous mid-major teams in the entire field. However, they still face a tougher path to the Final Four than just about anyone.


Gasner Delvarin Jr.

Head Coach Dusty May Cutting down the net after championship win on Feb. 25, 2023.

Zachary Watts, Staff Writer

After winning the C-USA Championship for the first time in program history, FAU men’s basketball’s focus has moved to the Big Dance.

Despite their remarkable success throughout the season, including a program-best record of 31-3,  the Owls found themselves on the short end of the stick with the ninth seed, even though it’s a sizable jump from the 15-seed they earned back in 2002. 

Unfortunately for FAU, they drew one of the toughest first-round matchups ending up in the  East region of the bracket. On Friday, the Owls will look to begin a “Cinderella” run to cap off the season, facing off against the eight-seed Memphis University Tigers at Nationwide Arena. 

The matchup will be a preview of several meetings to come in the near future as FAU will join the American Athletic Conference next season, alongside Memphis, who upset the current one-seed in the tournament, the Houston Cougars, in the conference championship. 

Both sides are riding a wave of momentum, and intend to make a deep run in this year’s tournament. Unfortunately for both sides, they’ll be facing a very formidable opponent in the first round in a win-or-go-home scenario.

A deep run in this year’s tournament will prove to be the Owls’ toughest challenge to date. Considering the draw of the division, a potential journey to the Final Four will more than likely first have to go through the 1-seed, Purdue.

If they can advance past Memphis, and likely Purdue in the Round of 32, they’ll draw a possible matchup with either Tennessee or Duke, and beyond that likely will lie the loaded rosters of Kansas State, Marquette, or possibly Kentucky. 

Regardless of the challenges that lie ahead for the Owls, it would be disrespectful to say this year’s roster has not already faced its fair share of adversity. 

FAU’s roster, primarily made of underclassmen and transfers, was set with low expectations, polled to finish fifth in the conference preseason. Despite the lack of recognition from a national standpoint, the Owls broke countless records on their way to a March Madness birth. 

Going undefeated 19-0 at home, as well as winning the regular season conference trophy and conference tournament championship in the same season, was a first for the Owls. However, Head coach Dusty May has set a new standard in Boca Raton. 

The new expectation is to win championships, and before the Owls make the transition to the AAC, there’s still one more trophy up for grabs.

FAU has as good a chance as any mid-major team in the tournament to make a run. However, the selection committee failed to look closely at the resume the Owls had built thus far. Despite having more Quartile-one wins than higher seeds within their region such as Michigan State, they face a much tougher road ahead.

Despite having one of the best records in the entire country, the Owls continue to be overlooked. Regardless of their perception, they continue to play as one of the best teams and one of the most cohesive units in the country. 

The fact they’ll be in the building on Friday is proof of all the hard work and dedication that has gone into this season. Regardless of the outcome, the Owls will still be able to hold their heads high on all they’ve accomplished. 

As mentioned before, the expectation has changed; a new standard has been set. The Owls aren’t just happy to be here, this team is looking to make a run—a deep one—regardless of the competition.