14. Florida Atlantic (10-3)
This past year greatly changed not just basketball but Florida Atlantic as a whole as a university. We’re talking not just about last year’s Final Four run, but returning all of their talent and entering this season with surreal expectations. Challenged in the nonconference slate, the Owls have beaten Texas A&M, Butler, and have that thriller against Arizona, but there have been missteps as well.
The Owls unfortunately stumbled once again this past week just seven days after beating Arizona in double overtime. For their first true road game of the season, Florida Atlantic played at Florida Gulf Coast and lost 72-68. Vladislav Goldin had 21 points and 7 rebounds, Johnell Davis added 17 points, and Alijah Martin flirted with a double-double, but the Eagles took a decent halftime lead and never relented, handing a third loss to the Owls.
Many people pointed at their embarrassing offensive performance against Bryant, but Florida Atlantic bounced back in a major way in the following month. They proved that they belonged when they played against Arizona last week and no slip-up against Florida Gulf Coast can undermine that. The issue is that the Owls’ only real challenge in the next two months will be Memphis, even if this is their first season in the AAC.