Men’s Basketball: Owls set to face Fairleigh Dickinson in Round of 32

After upsetting Memphis in the first round, FAU will take on the 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson Knights on Sunday night.


Jaden Wiston

Nick Boyd celebrates knocking down a big three pointer, mocking Middle Tennessee’s previous three point celebration on Jan. 26, 2023.

Cameron Priester, Sports Editor

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The best record in program history, an undefeated 17-0 at home, their first C-USA Championship, and an upset victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 

That is only a brief look into the unprecedented success that FAU men’s basketball (32-3, 18-2 C-USA) has found this season.

Now, they’ll be looking to add yet another feat to that list as they’re attention shifts to the Round of 32.

On Sunday, March 19, the Owls will take on the Fairleigh Dickinson University Knights (FDU) (21-15, 10-6 NEC) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

We will be unafraid to lose, unafraid to fail,” said head coach Dusty May in a press conference on Saturday. “We’ll give our best shot, and trust that will be good enough.

FAU has been many’s favorite amongst the mid-major tournament qualifiers to make a run through the tournament, and booked their ticket in a 66-65 thriller against the Memphis University Tigers on Friday night.

The 16-seed Knights, however, had a much more surprising journey to the Round of 32, and aren’t supposed to be here. 

FDU just became the second 16-seed to defeat a 1-seed in the first round, stunning the Purdue University Boilermakers 63-58 Friday night in arguably the biggest upset in tournament history.

Life-changing,” described FDU junior forward Sean Moore of the victory. “That whole game has changed everybody on our team, staff, students, everybody who go to Fairleigh Dickinson University, everything is different now.”

Before that, the Knights fell 67-66 in the Northeast Conference Championship to the Merrimack College Warriors, who were ineligible for the tournament, leaving FDU with the conference’s automatic bid. 

“There’s been some games we played good half court defense,” said Knights’ head coach Tobin Anderson. “But we finally started playing 40 minutes consistently here the last four or five games. And that’s been a big key to our success.”

FDU pulled off the 23.5-point upset by effectively neutralizing the Boilermakers’ lifeline, junior center Zach Edey, in the game’s closing minutes; And will likely try to do the same on Sunday.

Despite being the most undersized team in the NCAA, ranking dead last in effective height, FDU kept Edey, the 7-foot-4 All-American, from even attempting a field goal in the final eight minutes of regulation. Despite finishing with a 21-point, 15-rebound double-double, Edey’s disappearance down the stretch ultimately proved fatal.

When they meet FAU on Sunday, they’ll be looking to give the Owls’ big men, Vladislav Goldin and Giancarlo Rosado, the same troubles. Fortunately for FAU, they also boast one of the deepest backcourts in the country, and like to rely on their ability to shoot from deep, ranking 19th in average three-point attempts. 

“FDU is going to be a little like playing us in practice. We’re not the biggest team on paper, when you look at our heights and weights. We’re not the most imposing team. But most of our guys play much bigger than what they are, much like FDU,” said May. “They’re able to put four or five shooters on the floor at any moment. And that’s the same thing we try to do.” 

The winner of Sunday’s second round matchup will advance to the “Sweet Sixteen”, where they’ll meet the University of Tennessee Volunteers at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Tipoff from Nationwide Arena is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. and will be broadcast on truTV.

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