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March Madness: Clock Hasn’t Struck Midnight For Cinderella Florida Atlantic

Owls Trying to Become First No. 9 Seed in Final Four Since 2013

Cinderella stories have been rather frequent in the NCAA tournament in recent years.

With No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic topping Tennessee to reach the East Region final, the Owls are the 11th team seeded ninth or lower to play for a spot in the Final Four in the last 10 NCAA tournaments.

Brandon Weatherspoon #23 of the Florida Atlantic Owls
Brandon Weatherspoon #23 of the Florida Atlantic Owls - Elsa/Getty Images/afp

Fans of the Owls might want to stop reading because when it comes to college basketball picks, the news hasn’t always been encouraging for the underdogs in these showdowns. Teams seeded outside of the top eight while facing a team seeded eighth or higher have lost five of the last six meetings.

When looking at the college basketball odds, FAU is a two-point underdog against No. 3 seed Kansas State and are priced at +2000 in the national championship odds, which ranks eighth among the 12 remaining teams going into Friday’s action. 

The Owls have won 10 games in a row with the 34 wins the most among Division I men’s basketball teams. 

Here’s a look at the Elite Eight games since 2013 that had at least one team seeded ninth or lower.

2022 East Region: North Carolina 69, Saint Peter’s 49

  • Line: North Carolina -8½  
  • Total: 139

Fousseyni Drame had 12 points and seven points but that wasn’t enough as Saint Peter’s was outrebounded 49-33 with Armando Bacot leading the way with 20 points and 22 rebounds.

2022 Midwest Region: Kansas 76, Miami 50

  • Line: Kansas -5
  • Total: 145

Kameron McGusty and Isaiah Wong combined for 33 of Miami’s 50 points

The eventual national champions got 18 points and four assists from Ochai Agbaji as Kansas outscored the Hurricanes 47-15 in the second half.

2021 East Region: UCLA 51, Michigan 49

  • Line: Michigan -6½ 
  • Total: 137

The teams combined for one field goal over the last four minutes as the Bruins held on for the win over the top-seeded Wolverines despite being listed by the Las Vegas college basketball odds as the underdog.

Johnny Juzang led the Bruins with 28 points on 11 of 19 shooting. Michigan was 3 of 11 from 3-point range and 5 of 11 from the foul line.

Michigan lost to Gonzaga 93-90 in overtime in the national semifinals.

2021 Midwest Region: Houston 67, Oregon State 61

  • Line: Houston -8
  • Total: 130

Oregon State rallied from a 17-point deficit but the comeback fell a couple of possessions short. Maurice Calloo led the Beavers with 13 points off the bench.

Oregon State went nearly four minutes without a basket down the stretch as the game finished just under the total.

2018 South Region: Loyola Chicago 78, Kansas State 62

  • Line: Kansas State -1½ 
  • Total: 126

It was Cinderella versus Cinderella as these teams blew up the South Region bracket.

Ben Richardson had 23 points to lead four Loyola starters scoring in double figures as the Ramblers shot 57% from the floor to reach the Final Four before losing to Michigan 69-57 in the semifinals.

Xavier Sneed had 16 points and six rebounds to lead Kansas State.

2018 West Region: Michigan 58, Florida State 54

  • Line: Michigan -4½ 
  • Total: 144

Phillip Cofer had 16 points and 12 rebounds as Florida State threw a scare into the favored Wolverines. However, Florida State shot just 31% from the field and that was too much to overcome.

A missed free throw by Michigan’s Zavier Simpson ended up being the difference when it came to covering against the NCAA basketball odds as the Seminoles were able to cover.

2017 West Region: Gonzaga 83, Xavier 59

  • Line: Gonzaga -8½ 
  • Total: 144½ 

The 18 points and five rebounds from J.P. Macura were not enough as Xavier’s magical run came to an end.

Nigel Williams-Goss had 23 points.

Things got interesting for those who bet online when Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura’s 3-pointer made it a 83-59 game with 43 seconds to play considering that the total was 144½ .

2016 Midwest Region: Syracuse 68, Virginia 62

  • Line: Virginia -8 
  • Total: 122½ 

Malachi Richardson had 21 of his 23 points in the second half as Syracuse erased a 14-point halftime deficit to stun the top-seeded Cavaliers despite being listed by the sportsbook as an eight-point underdog.

Syracuse fell to North Carolina in the semifinals.

2014 South Region: Florida 62, Dayton 52

  • Line: Florida -10½ 
  • Total: 134

Dyshawn Pierre had 18 points, but Dayton couldn’t overcome a tough first half against the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed.

Dayton did outscore the Gators 28-24 in the second half. However, there was too much room to make up for the Flyers.

2013 West Region: Wichita State 70, Ohio State 66

  • Line: Ohio State -5
  • Total: 132½ 

Malcolm Armstead had 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals for Wichita State, which had stunned top-seeded Gonzaga in the second round.

The aptly named Shockers led by 13 points at halftime before holding off a late rally by Ohio State.

Wichita State lost to Louisville in the national semifinals.

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