9th Seed FAU Reaches Final Four

By Lucas Forwood

Florida Atlantic University (FAU) reaches Final Four for the first time in school history.
Florida Atlantic is a public school in Boca Raton, Florida. The school has around 30,377 students and has yet to win a March Madness game. FAU has taken pride in its athletics program, having 19 D1 athletic teams. The basketball program has received less spending than the other athletic programs at FAU.
The FAU football team received 13 million dollars for the 2021-2022 season, as opposed to the FAU men's basketball team, which only received 2.7 million dollars last year, according to the Athletic and Front Office Sports.
FAU alumni Jason Forwood shares his experience regarding the FAU men's basketball team during his attendance. He tells us, “I attended FAU, Class of ‘96, the team had just started playing Division 1 basketball, and the school was excited that we had our team and could compete at the highest level of college sports. As I got closer to graduation, the school was gearing up to promote sports. Unfortunately, the basketball team suffered bad seasons from 1992-1994 as Tim Loomis (head coach) lost his 3-season winning team and had to rebuild.”
The FAU men's basketball team has considerably less funding than their opponents in March Madness. According to Front Office Sports, the Tennessee Volunteers spent $14.4 million against the FAU Owls' 2.7 million dollars. The two teams faced each other in the sweet sixteen of March Madness.  
Coming in as the ninth seed, FAU had only beaten an eighth seed and a sixteen seed. Seeding in March Madness is vital, as seeding determines one's rank against the other sixteen schools in the division. A team is placed in the bracket according to their rank or seed and plays in order from one to sixteen from schools in their division. Four divisions, meaning 64 college basketball teams, are in the tournament fighting for the national championship.
Tennessee was FAU’s first real test in the tournament, as they prevailed, winning 62-55. Players like Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin led the charge and were unstoppable forces in the tournament. The FAU Owls began to make a name for themselves in the tournament after this win and were regarded as the Cinderella team.
Their elite eight-matchup was the three-seed ranked Kansas St., Although the three-seed had yet to play any superstar teams. Kansas St. point guard Marquis Nowell was dominant throughout the tournament, putting up 20 points and 19 assists in the previous game. Marquis Nowell put up 30 points and 12 assists against FAU, although it was not enough to beat the Owls, with Johnell Davis having 13 points and Alijah Martin with 17 points. Nevertheless, the Owls prevailed again, reaching the March Madness Final Four.
Dusty May led the Owls to their first win and final four in March Madness, making history. San Diego State University (SDSU)  was the Owl's final four matchups, coming in as the fifth seed. SDSU was coming off a win against sixth-seed Creighton and one-seed Alabama. Both teams earned their final four spots as .04% of ESPN March Madness predicting brackets had both teams in the final four.
As the Owls held a 14-point lead in the second half, SDSU came back to win 72-71 with a heartbreaking game-winning shot. SDSU reached its first championship in school history, and FAU’s Cinderella Story ended.
Dusty May received the District 17 Coach of the Year award, with Jonhell Davis receiving all-district first team and Alijah Martin receiving all-district second team.
As FAU’s final-four run has expanded and promoted the team heavily, they have gone against all odds to reach the tournament's final four and have a first March Madness win. Dusty May has signed a new 5-year, 1 million dollar contract hoping to be back as more people begin to follow FAU. As Jason Forwood states, “Their success in the 2022-23 season will keep me interested in FAU’s progress.”