Florida Atlantic Mar 25, 2023; New York, NY, USA; Florida Atlantic Owls guard Brandon Weatherspoon (23) reacts after a 3-pointer during the second half of an NCAA tournament East Regional final against the Kansas State Wildcats at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Even as the Florida Atlantic Owls kept winning in the NCAA Tournament, many fans kept waiting for them to falter.

Those naysayers will have to wait at least another week now. The No. 9 seed Owls knocked off the No. 3 Kansas State Wildcats, 79-76 Saturday to punch a ticket to the Final Four.

The outcome remained in doubt until the final seconds, as Kansas State tried to get off a potential game-tying 3-point shot, only to be stymied by FAU’s defense.

Kansas State held a 63-57 lead with just under 9 minutes remaining and kept threatening to pull away, but FAU responded under pressure down the stretch.

In a tournament that has made history for upsets that knocked out all the No. 1 seeds, FAU entered Saturday’s play as the only true Cinderella remaining. Florida Atlantic only launched its basketball program 30 years ago. Making only its second NCAA Tournament this year, the Owls had never won a game on the big stage.

Now, they’re 4-0 in the tournament, have an NCAA-best 35-3 record this season, and may finally be silencing the skeptics who remain out there. Many fans pointed out that, in hindsight, the tournament selection committee seeded Florida Atlantic far too low. Once again, a sign that the Owls have been fighting for respect all season.

College basketball fans saluted Florida Atlantic on social media, and also relished the fact that the national title game will feature at least one true underdog program.

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.