March Madness: Florida Atlantic continue dream run into the Final Four, UConn pummel Gonzaga
The unlikely March Madness run from the Florida Atlantic Owls continued on Saturday as they defeated the Kansas State Wildcats 79-76 to punch their ticket to the first Final Four in school history.
It is not just the first Final Four the Owls have ever reached, as they had never won a game in the NCAA Tournament prior to this season, with their only previous appearance being a first-round exit in 2002.
After knocking out eight-seed Memphis, 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson and four-seed Tennessee, Florida Atlantic won the East region and cut down the nets by eliminating the third-seed Wildcats.
The Owls had to deal with another spectacular performance from Kansas State talisman Markquis Nowell as the five-foot-eight point guard put up 30 points (eight-of-21 shooting), 12 assists and five steals.
But while the Wildcats leaned on their star, Florida Atlantic spread it around, with four players scoring at least 13 points, led by Bryan Greenlee's 16 on four-of-seven shooting. Seven-foot-one Russian center Vladislav Goldin controlled the interior with 14 points (six-of-11), 13 rebounds and two blocks.
The win means Florida Atlantic will play the winner between Creighton and San Diego State for a spot in the National Championship game.
It was far smoother sailing on the other side of the bracket as the four-seed Connecticut Huskies pummelled the three-seed Gonzaga Bulldogs 82-54 in a statement-making effort.
UConn's top draft prospect Jordan Hawkins drained six triples for his 20 points and six rebounds, while do-it-all wing Andre Jackson Jr flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 10 assists, nine rebounds and eight points.
It is the first time in NCAA Tournament history a team seeded fourth or lower won four consecutive games by double digits.
With it, Connecticut earned their sixth Final Four trip in program history, and first since 2014. They will meet the winner between five-seed Miami and two-seed Texas for a spot in the final game of the season.