The only two single-digit seeds to never win an NCAA Tournament are a No. 9 and a No. 5, but one of those two seeds will reach Monday's national title game as ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic faces fifth-seeded San Diego State in the first Final Four matchup -- the first-ever trip for both -- at NRG Stadium in Houston on Saturday night. SDSU, a 2.5-point favorite, is taking a big against-the-spread lean at BetMGM.
As of this writing, San Diego State is taking 60% of the spread bets and 75% of the money at the book, which has pushed the spread up from -1.5. On the total of 131.5, 52% of the bets and 46% of the money are on Over. At +130 on the moneyline, FAU is taking 64% of the bets and 31% of the money. In terms of total tickets sold for the two Final Four games, that Owls moneyline is No. 1.
Florida Atlantic might be playing its final game as a member of Conference USA. It will head to the American Athletic Conference next season along with a handful of other C-USA teams. All of a sudden, FAU's regular-season strength of schedule looks that much better because conference foe Charlotte won the CBI Tournament and Thursday's NIT final was a matchup of Conference USA teams between UAB and North Texas, won by the Mean Green.
FAU, the second No. 9 seed in the Final Four after Wichita State in 2013 (the Shockers lost in the semifinals to eventual national champion and top-seeded Louisville), has a national-best 35 wins (most nationally since 2019) and only three losses. The Owls lost at Ole Miss, at UAB, and at Middle Tennessee.
The Owls are just the fifth team since seeding began to make it all the way to the Final Four after having never won a tournament game in previous seasons. Johnell Davis has been the team's best player in the Dance, averaging 17.3 points and 7.9 boards per game. Dustin May was named the CBS Sports College Basketball Coach of the Year this week.
The Mountain West has been terrible in the NCAA Tournament in recent years, which makes San Diego State's run all the more surprising – it is the first team from the conference to make the Final Four.
The Aztecs (31-6) were regular-season and conference tournament champions in the Mountain West, just like FAU was in Conference USA. Coach Brian Dutcher's team is defense-first, and only Matt Bradley (12.5 points per game) averages double-digit points this season. Bradley has totaled just eight points on 3-for-17 shooting in the past two games, upsets of No. 6 Creighton and No. 1 overall seed Alabama. The 31 wins are the second-most in school history behind the 34 by the 2010-11 team led by Kawhi Leonard.
San Diego State is No. 4 in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom. It is No. 2 in 3-point percentage defense and held Alabama and Creighton to a combined 11.3% (5-for-44) from deep. SDSU's overall 40.8 field goal percentage defense is No. 35 in the nation, and it has held each of its last eight opponents at 40% or lower shooting from the floor.
SDSU is 2-0 all-time vs. Florida Atlantic, but they haven't played since December 2002.
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