Casual college basketball bettors might overlook at good Conference USA matchup Monday evening when No. 24 Florida Atlantic visits Western Kentucky at 7:00 p.m. ET. It will be the Owls' first-ever game played as an Associated Press Top 25-ranked team. FAU is a 5-point favorite at Caesars Sportsbook.
Coached by Dustin May, a onetime student manager for Bobby Knight who also worked for Mike White at Florida, the Owls are 16-1 overall and 6-0 in C-USA play. They enter on a 15-game winning streak, the second longest active streak in nation behind a 17-game run by Charleston. FAU's lone loss came at the hands of Ole Miss by 13 points in the second game of the season.
FAU logged a good win at Florida and is No. 13 in the latest NCAA NET rankings. That's higher than the likes of Kansas State, Virginia, Rutgers, Xavier, Marquette, Baylor, Ohio State, Illinois, Duke, Auburn, Arkansas, Indiana, North Carolina and many other traditional powers.
The Owls were in trouble over the weekend, trailing 51-45 at home against a very good North Texas team with 12:43 to play, but rallied for a 66-62 win. FAU held North Texas without a field goal in the final 2:50, and the Mean Green managed only one total point in that stretch.
Johnell Davis led FAU in scoring for the third straight game with 16 points and is second on the team overall at 12.1 points per game. In C-USA games, Davis is averaging a team-high 16.8 points per game on 51.5% shooting from the field and 47.8% shooting from 3-point range. The Owls are deep -- their bench ranks No. 1 nationally in points per game and outscored the North Texas reserves 38-13.
Florida Atlantic's lone NCAA Tournament appearance was in 2002 as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Owls were a No. 15 seed and lost to Alabama. CBS Bracketology expert Jerry Palm currently has FAU as a No. 11 seed in the 2023 Big Dance and facing No. 6 Saint Mary's in the South Region.
Don't rule out an upset tonight as WKU (11-6, 3-3 C-USA) has won three straight. Head coach Rick Stansbury has missed the last six games due to health issues. Associate head coach Phil Cunningham has taken over his duties in the interim. WKU's three conference losses came by a total of 12 points.
WKU's Jamarion Sharp leads the country in total blocks (73) and blocks per game (4.3). The Hilltoppers are fourth in the nation in blocks per game (6.1). Over his last nine outings, Dayvion McKnight is averaging 22.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while shooting 50.7% from the field.
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