Final Four: San Diego State vs Florida Atlantic—A Preview of two programs on the rise

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Tyler Perches
Contributing Writer

The Aztecs will face the 9th seed Florida Atlantic University Owls in Houston at 6:09pm Eastern Standard Time in the first national semifinal game on Saturday, April 1, at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.

FAU plays in conference USA,  however after this season they are moving to the American Athletic Conference (AAC). 

FAU has had a tremendous season to get to this point of their miraculous March Madness run, where they have gone 35-3 (18-2). FAU was under-seeded by the NCAA Tournament committee by only earning a 9th seed after winning over 30 games.

The Owls have proved that committee wrong by getting to the four four.  To get here they beat the 8th seed Memphis by 1, 66-65 in the round of 64.

In the round of 32, they beat the 16 seed Farleigh Dickinson by 8, 78-70. In the sweet 16, they upset the 4th seed Tennessee 62-55. In the Elite 8, in a very high paced game FAU beat the 3rd seed Kansas State, 79-76 to punch their ticket, 

FAU, like SDSU, are a very balanced team. They also play nine players in the rotation. Every single one of those players average double digit minutes. The player that plays the most minutes is guard Alijah Martin who averages 26.2 minutes per game.

While guard Brandon Weatherspoon plays the least amount of minutes at 16.  So FAU will always have fresh legs on the court at all times, and it will be very hard for them to get tired. 

On the season, FAU has played amazingly on both sides of the basketball. On offense, they can really score. According to Kenpom, they have the 24th best offense in the country.

FAU is scoring 78 points per game while shooting 46.7 from the field, 36.5% from beyond, and 71.8% from the free throw line. 44% of their shots on the year have been from three so the Aztecs defense really have to focus on that on that side of the defense. 

FAU has three players to average double figures in points.  Their leading scorer is guard Johnell Davis who averages 13.9 points per game. He is shooting 49.3% from the field, 36.6% from three, and 85.5% from the free throw. He will be the guy that will have the ball in his hands the majority of the time.

Guard Alijah Martin averages 13.1 points shooting 43.4% from the field, and 37% from three. As 6’2 210 pounds he has the ability to shoot, and also drive to the hoop efficiently.

Their 3rd double figure scorer is 7’1 center Vladislav Golden. He averages 10.3 points while making 62.7% of his points.  He has given his opponents a lot of trouble down low in the post, by using his length, and big body. 

FAU has also phenomenal on the defense side on things. Kenpom rates the Owls to have the 29th best defense in the nation. They hold their opponents to only score 65.1 points per game.

Per game, their opposition have only shot 40.2% from the field, and 31.8% from beyond the arc. FAU can games where it’s really high scoring, and a high paced game, but they can also ones where the game is low scoring and a half-court style game. 

The matchup between the Aztecs and the Owls is the first in program history, but will be one that both sides remember for decades to come. Both feel they are a team of destiny and want to continue their season into Monday night.

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