The Florida Atlantic Owls and Kansas State Wildcats both began the 2022-23 season unranked and after they clash in Madison Square Garden on Sunday, one of these teams will be going to the Final Four.
Florida Atlantic Owls vs. Kansas State Wildcats (-2, 144.5)
The Owls are a balanced team that is 14th in the country in points scored per possession on offense and are 18th in points allowed per possession on defense, primarily using their defense to survive and advance to the Elite Eight.
Between their six total conference tournament and NCAA Tournament games, they have allowed 70 points or fewer in all of them while showing the ability to play either an uptempo or slow game, ranking 176th out of the 363 Division I teams in possessions per game.
Kansas State is looking to play a more uptempo brand of basketball, ranking 41st in the country in possessions per game, but may not be able to play at their regular pace with the injury to point guard Markquis Nowell.
In Kansas State’s 98-93 overtime win against Michigan State, Nowell set an NCAA Tournament single-game record with 19 assists, but clearly injured his ankle in the second half of the game and was hobbled in the closing minutes of the game.
When speaking to reporters on Friday, Nowell said he is at about “85-90-percent” health entering Saturday’s game, which could cause the team to have to play a bit more slowly.
Overall this season, Nowell is second among qualifying Division I players in assists per game and 10th in steals per game with 17.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 8.1 assists, and 2.5 steals per game.
For all that Nowell and Kansas State do well on offense, it does lead to a high amount of turnovers with the Wildcats having a turnover on 20.3% of their possessions in games played away from home, which ranks 304th in the country.
If Kansas State can’t have Nowell drive to the rim as often as they are accustom to, it will be tough for the Wildcats to find open shots as the Owls are fourth in the nation in opponent field goal shooting percentage away from home and are allowing opponents to shoot just 29% from 3-point range in games away from home, which is eighth in the nation.
Kansas State has also done a good job of defending the 3-point arc with opponents shooting 30.5% from 3-point range, which ranks 21st in the country.
Florida Atlantic gets 37% of their points from made 3-point shots, which is the 25th-highest percentage in the country. With the way Kansas State guards the 3-point arc and how stout the Owls have been on defense, the road to the Final Four will involve more bricks than anticipated.
The Play: Florida Atlantic vs. Kansas State Under 144.5
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