Coming off one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history, the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (21-15) will look to continuing shocking the world as they matchup up with the Florida Atlantic Owls (32-3) in the second round. Of course, FDU showed stifling defense against top-seeded Purdue, beating the Boilermakers 63-58. However, Florida Atlantic is also a very confident bunch, especially after outlasting 8-seeded Memphis in a nail biter, winning 66-65.
With the on-court action set to tip off Sunday (March 19) at 7:45 p.m. ET, FDU-FAU will air nationally on truTV. Glancing over the lines for this contest, FAU is a staggering favorite by 15 points at DraftKings Sportsbook.
No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson Knights: 21-15 (10-6 NEC):
First round result: Def. Purdue 63-58
KenPom rating: 68.6 Overall, 106.7 Offense, 115.8 Defense
NET ranking: 301, (0-1 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: G Demetre Roberts (16.5ppg)
Key stat: FDU is scoring 77.6ppg (43rd of 363 teams) in 2022-23
The Knights won their first game because these things happened: They were able to play Purdue for 11 steals, and held the Boilermakers to 19.2 percent from 3-point range. Typically has FDU not been known as a pesky defensive team this season, but their effort on Friday proved they can match up with the best teams at the Big Dance.
In the offensive department, FDU was powered by Roberts (12 points) along with forwards Sean Moore (19 points) and Cameron Tweedy (10 points), the latter of which coming off the bench. They'll need a similarly effective performance from their wings if they hope to take down another hyper-talented team in the FAU Owls.
No. 9 Florida Atlantic Owls: 32-2 (18-2 C-USA):
First round result: Def. Memphis 66-65
KenPom rating: 67.8 Overall, 114.4 Offense, 96.0 Defense
NET ranking: 13, (2-1 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: G Johnell Davis (13.5ppg)
Key stat: FAU is scoring at a slightly higher clip (78.4ppg) compared to FDU
The Owls won their first game because these things happened: They crashed the boards hard against a very respectable-Memphis squad, hauling in 39 total rebounds. Eighteen of those 39 boards for FAU were on the offensive side, giving the Owls numerous second-chance opportunities to turn their possessions into points.
Along with being their best scorer, Johnell Davis is also their on-floor leader. At 6'4, he has solid skills and size to be one of the best all-around guards in the tourney. His ensuing matchup with FDU's Demetre Roberts should be fun to see, despite standing half-a-foot taller than Roberts: Look for those two to dictate the pace.
Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
Point spread: Florida Atlantic -15
Point total: 149.5
Moneyline: FDU +800/FAU -1400
Against The Spread Pick: Fairleigh Dickinson +15
Point total pick: Over 149.5
Pick to Win: Florida Atlantic
I have been thoroughly impressed with the Knights at various times this season, and picked them to win in the First Four. With that said, I think their Cinderella-run ends against FAU, who has not lost in over a month. Due to the Owls physicality, I believe they send FDU home for Spring. Still, I think the Knights should keep it close enough to cover a spread wide enough to parallel bark a bus in. In the total points category, I lean toward the offensive talent on both ends to eclipse 150: Give me the over.