Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin, Florida Atlantic among 5 teams with question marks entering March

Florida Atlantic v Charlotte
Florida Atlantic v Charlotte / Isaiah Vazquez/GettyImages
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3.) Florida Atlantic Owls

Labeling Florida Atlantic as a disappointment is an interesting situation.

On one hand, the Owls started the season ranked 10th in the AP Top 25, shot as high as 7th in late December after beating Arizona, and now find themselves at the nine-seed line, according to BracketMatrix.

They have two Q4 losses under their belt and have shown a slow but steady decline in their NET rankings since their humbling defeat to Florida Gulf Coast.

On the other hand, it’s extremely hard to recreate the magic of what happened last year, finishing the 2022-23 season with 35 wins and, of course, failing one basket away from a national championship game appearance.

Despite the target on their back, Florida Atlantic has rattled off 20+ wins on the year, something that has never been done in Florida Atlantic history in back-to-back seasons, according to SportsReference.

A disappointment or not, where the Owls have struggled this season has been on the defensive side of the floor, posting sub-100 defensive efficiency metrics -- a weakness that will surely limit their ceiling in the NCAA Tournament.  

For reference, their 2022-23 squad had a defensive efficiency rating of 95.7, placing them as the 34th-best in the country, according to KenPom.

With games against Tulane, North Texas, and Memphis left to round out the Owls’ regular season, the question remains: can Johnell Davis (18.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.9 APG) alongside Vlad Goldin (14.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG), and Alijah Martin take the Owls on another unprecedented March run? Only time will tell but the defense will need to hold its own in the upcoming weeks.