What: #10 FAU (0-0) vs Loyola Chicago (0-0)
When: Wed. Nov. 8th, @ 7:00 PM
Where: WinTrust Arena
Series: First matchup.
TV: Barstool TV
Radio: FoxSports 640
Live Stats: Here
Line: FAU -5
FAU at a Glance Last Year
Offense - 78 PPG, 47% FG, 37% 3PT
Defense - 65 PPGA, 40% FGA, 32% 3PTA
Rebounding - 39 RPG Owls, 33 RPG Opponents
Very fitting for the Owls, coming off a run to the Final Four, to begin their season against a team that has reached that stage of March Madness back in 2018.
Like FAU, Loyola Chicago is a remarkable example of how a small basketball program can overcome the odds and stun powerhouses while earning the admiration of college basketball fans all over the country.
Even though the Ramblers are far from what they were in 2018, they still present a tough task for the Owls who want to begin their campaign on the right track.
With head coach Dusty May officially listing Alijah Martin as a game-time decision, expect guards Johnell Davis, Nick Boyd, and Bryan Greenlee (pictured below) to have more touches to the ball if Martin is unable to suit for Wednesday night.
It presents great opportunity for Davis to explode at the offensive end, displaying the improvements he has made throughout the offseason. With Boyd getting his chances to run the offense, keep an eye on him to possibly be more involved with scoring and distributing the ball.
FAU can also experiment lineups utilizing multiple wing players. Case in point, Tre Carroll, Brenen Lorient, and Isaiah Gaines. Dusty May said their skillsets could prove to be beneficial for the season-opener, with Carroll providing all-around offense, Lorient becoming an improved two-way player, and Gaines showcasing himself as a stout defensive player. It would be worth keeping tabs on the trio whenever they're on the court throughout the matchup.
The Owls will have a couple of days to rest before hosting their first game of the season against Eastern Michigan on November 14th at 7:00 PM in The Burrow. The contest will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Loyola Chicago Team Site: Here
Loyola Chicago at a Glance Last Year
Offense - 67 PPG, 46% FG, 33% 3PT
Defense - 73 PPGA, 45% FGA, 34% 3PTA
Rebounding - 31 RPG, 33 RPG Opponents
The Ramblers' Final Four run in 2018 will always be remembered by the fans of March Madness, pulling off spectacular upsets over Miami, Tennessee, and Kansas State before falling to Michigan 69-57.
Loyola Chicago even made another run in 2021, memorably taking down one-seed Illinois in the second round before losing 65-58 to Oregon State in the Sweet Sixteen. They returned to the Big Dance yet again the following season, but saw it end earlier than some may have hoped with a 54-41 loss to Ohio State.
Last year was one to forget for the Ramblers, finishing with an unflattering 10-21 record (4-14 A-10) as the lowest-ranked team in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Coached by Drew Valentine, entering his third year at the helm (seventh overall) since Rambler legend Porter Moser departed for Oklahoma, the squad made some additions this offseason with incoming transfers Greg Dolan (Cornell), Patrick Mwamba (Oral Roberts), and Dame Adelekun (Dartmouth). Mwamba particularly presents himself as an active rebounder and inside player, averaging 7.9 points and 5.4 rebounds on 48.6% shooting from the field, having Oral Roberts finish with a 30-5 record after losing to Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Loyola Chicago recently played an exhibition with Trinity Christian, cruising to a 104-44 rout. Philip Alston led the team in scoring with 17, maintaining his place as the top scoring option as he averaged a team-high 14.6 points per game last season. They also return their best three-point shooter and playmaker in Braden Norris, being the only player to record more than 100 assists and make over 60 shots from beyond the arc throughout the 2022-23 campaign. Limiting their production would be key for the Owls to disrupt the Ramblers' offensive rhythm.
After this matchup, the Ramblers will have a three-game homestand starting with Eastern Illinois on November 11th at 7:00 PM. The game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago+.