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2024 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Capsule

What: RV FAU (25-8, 14-4 AAC) vs. Northwestern (21-11, 12-8 Big Ten)

When: Fri. March 22nd, @ 12:15 PM

Where: Barclays Center

Series: Wildcats lead 1-0 all-time against the Owls. First matchup since November 2005.


Radio : FoxSports 640

Live Stats : Here

Line:  FAU -2.5

FAU at a Glance

Offense - 83 PPG, 48% FG, 36% 3PT

Defense - 73 PPGA, 44% FGA, 34% 3PTA

Rebounding - 38 RPG Owls, 34 RPG Opponents

Owl Notables

One of FAU's objectives coming off the Final Four was to return to the NCAA Tournament. Safe to say that mission was accomplished, albeit not in a way some may have preferred.

After a semifinal loss to a Temple squad that overexceeded expectations in the AAC Tournament, plenty of nerves could be feltthroughout the FAU community on whether their At-Large big would remain secure or fall to the bubble of teams on the outside looking in. Luckily enough, the team had the grace of the selection committee and got the eight-seed while playing out of the East Region for the second consecutive year.

Like last year, the Owls return to the Empire State, this time playing at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. They now prepare for their first-round opponent in nine-seed Northwestern, who present many challenges for the Owls heading into Friday afternoon.

"They shoot the ball incredibly well, they're physical, they're tough, they're fiery," head coach Dusty May said. "They shoot the three well, they play to their strengths as well as we've seen anyone this season. We're going to have to hopefully get them sped up just a little bit."

Heading into March Madness with a 4-1 record over their last five game, various outlets have them ranked within the top 45 of the country from 43rd to as high as 20th entering the tournament.

  • RPI 20th
  • Net 39th
  • KenPom 41st
  • AP Top 25 43rd

Junior center Vlad Goldin was a force throughout the AAC Tournament, averaging 22 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, an assist, and a steal on 70.8% shooting from the field. He was a force against a defensively talented team in North Texas, putting up a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds in the quarterfinals.

"Our guys are finding him; we've tried to create new ways to camouflage things we're doing to get him the ball in scoring positions. And he's been very effective with his floaters, with his ball-screen offense's rolls, his dump-offs, his transition baskets," May said. "He's doing it in a number of ways, and then defensively, he's really taken a step with his rim protection and shot-blocking, so he's played exceptionally well as of late and he looks like he's got a lot of juice still."

The Owls going on a deep run will require big performances from Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin (pictured below) from here on out. Davis had 18 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists during the conference tournament as he'll need to limit the number of turnovers to have himself be at his best. For Martin, he'll need to be offensively consistent while continuing to be aggressive in getting to the rim and drawing fouls to get shots at the free-throw line.

If they beat Northwestern, FAU could face either the defending national champion 1-seed UConn or 16-seed Stetson in the Round of 32 at an undetermined time on Sunday.

Northwestern Team Site: Here

Northwestern at a Glance

Offense - 74 PPG, 46% FG, 39% 3PT

Defense - 69 PPGA, 45% FGA, 36% 3PTA

Rebounding - 31 RPG, 33 RPG Opponents

Wildcat Notables

Getting Northwestern as the first-round matchup is quite the draw for FAU, seeing the Wildcats have a decent campaign with a 21-11 record to return to the Big Dance for the second straight year.

Entering the matchup following an early exit from the Big Ten Tournament with a loss to Wisconsin, various outlets have them ranked within the top 65 of the country from 61st to as high as 46th entering the tournament.

  • RPI 61st
  • Net 53rd
  • KenPom 46th

At the heart of the Wildcat offense is Boo Buie, leading the squad in scoring with 19.2 points a night, good for 50th in the country while his three-point shooting of 44.3% on 192 attempts for the season places him in the top 10 as one of the best three-point shooters competing in the NCAA Tournament.

"We have to play with great physicality, great intensity, and just make sure that we're able to make him a little more uncomfortable that he wants to be played with great pace. He's a veteran guard so that's a challenge but we can throw different bodies at him, different matchups, and things like that," May said.

The Owls should also be wary of Brooks Barnhizer, who puts up 14.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.8 blocks as he made the Big Ten All-Defensive Team. This will also be a reunion for Dusty May, who will coach against the son of his former high school coach Mark Barnhizer.

Shutting down Northwestern's perimeter shooting will be key for the Owls. The Wildcats have the fifth-best percentage in the nation, making their threes at a 39.4% clip. After Buie with his aforementioned efficiency from deep, Ty Berry and Ryan Langbord follow with excellent three-point shooting splits of 44.9% and 42.5%, respectively.

The Wildcats are vulnerable in the frontcourt, losing big man Matt Nicholson for the tournament due to injury. He averaged 5.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and a team-high 40 blocks throughout the season. Their reduced size and lack of rim protection due to his absence may be an area the Owls would exploit greatly with their athletic backcourt via multiple drive-ins and slashings to the hoop.

It also doesn't help Northwestern that losing Nicholson puts them at a massive disadvantage in the rebounding department, already being in the bottom 50 (14th-worst) among the worst teams in the country in that category. Keep an eye on Vlad Goldin, Giancarlo Rosado, Brenen Lorient, Johnell Davis, and Alijah Martin to crash the glass at will.

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