Men’s Basketball: Owls looking for first tournament victory against Memphis

On Friday night, FAU will take on the Memphis Tigers in the Round of 64—their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2002.


Jaden Wiston

Sophomore guard Nicholas Boyd leading on the offensive end against Middle Tennessee on Jan. 26, 2023.

Cameron Priester, Sports Editor

COLUMBUS, Ohio – On Friday, March 17, the #25 FAU Owls (31-3, 18-2 C-USA) will make their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2002, in a Round of 64 matchup with the #24 University of Memphis Tigers (26-8, 13-5 AAC).

Our guys, we prepared all year for this moment, and we’re excited for the opportunity,” said head coach Dusty May. 

According to ESPN, Memphis is a 2-point favorite to win the matchup. 

FAU drew the East Region’s 9-seed on Selection Sunday, scheduling them for a matchup with the 8-seed Tigers, which will take place at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

The Owls were placed in the ninth seed after blowing out the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers 78-56 last Saturday, in the Conference USA (C-USA) Championship. 

Memphis too, will be entering the matchup coming off a conference championship victory. On Sunday, they handled the #2 University of Houston Cougars 75-65 in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) Championship.

The Tigers, led by NBA Hall of Famer, head coach Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, comfortably defeated the Cougars, the Midwest region’s #1 seed, the same way they’ve made their living all year; winning in transition.

Memphis, who ranks fourth in the country in fastbreak points, turned Houston’s sloppy 31.3% shooting from the floor and 11 turnovers into 15 fastbreak points in the AAC Championship. 

FAU’s chances of pulling off the 2-point upset will largely depend on limiting Memphis’ ability to score in transition.

Fortunately for the Owls, they’re one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country, ranking 18th in the nation in effective field goal percentage and 23rd in true shooting percentage. Continuing the same trend on Friday will limit Memphis’ opportunities to grab defensive rebounds and try to score in transition. 

For the shots that do go awry, FAU will be banking on their big men, centers Vladislav Goldin and Giancarlo Rosado, to both have a productive night on the offensive glass. Together the tandem is averaging a combined 10 rebounds per game, and if they can control the boards on Friday, they’ll be limiting one of Memphis’ greatest strengths.

Any chances FAU has of advancing to the Round of 32 will also depend on their ability to slow down fifth-year guard Kendric Davis. Memphis’ all-american guard, who’s 22.1 points per game leads the AAC and ranks ninth in the nation, is coming off of an electric 32-point outing in the conference championship.

None of this will be an easy task, however, the Owls will not be in unfamiliar territory come Friday night.

Several of the FAU’s marquee wins on their run up to the tournament, including their early season upset at the University of Florida, and more recently their C-USA Championship victory, came when they were listed as underdogs. 

We’re excited for a great matchup against a storied program like the Memphis Tigers,” added May.

Tipoff from Nationwide Arena is scheduled for 9:20 p.m. and will be broadcast on TNT.

Cameron Priester is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @PriesterCameron