We are just a few days away from the tip-off of the 2022-2023 seasons and expectations are high in Boca Raton and for a good reason. Led by 5th-year Head coach Dusty May, the Owls are coming off a season in which they broke a myriad of school records and achieved just their 3rd postseason tournament bid in the program's history. And after being tanked 87th in KenPom's preseason rankings, there is a belief not only within the team but also the fanbase that they could get to the big dance, March Madness.
Florida Atlantic is projected to finish 3rd in the C-USA with a projected record of 18-12 (T-Rank) behind the unanimous favorite UAB and North Texas, but this conference is arguably the deepest of all mid-majors as mostly every team can make some noise (sorry FIU), Last season, the Owls had an effective field goal % of 53.2% while holding opponents to 50% in that same category, this lead to an average margin of +4.5 last season, very solid numbers, and something that should only improve this year.
The Owls bring back a lot of firepowers, headlines by star Junior Alijah Martin who is coming off of a dominant sophomore season in which he averaged 13.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG while shooting $6% from the field and 40% from deep, earning all C-USA 3rd team honors in the process. Martin returns as one of the best players in the conference and should continue this upward trajectory as he develops into one of the best players at the mid-major level. But Martin isn't the only talented player don't his roster, the Owls are DEEP.
Senior guard Michael Forrest looks to finish off his fantastic Owl career, last season Forest had averages of 13.2 PPG, 3.0 APG, and 3.4 RPG while shooting over 40% from the field.
Jalen Gaffney is a formerly highly touted recruit who transferred over from UConn, his experience in big games should serve the Owls well down the stretch, he is rarely phased and will be a calming veteran presence for Dusty May's squad. and then you've got other key pieces who will be needed throughout the season like Bryan Greenlee, 7-footer Vadislav Goldin, and Johnell Davis just to name a few.
The road won't be an easy one, however, as the Owls have a pretty stacked schedule this season, outside of the gauntlet that will be the C-USA play, FAU has matchups against Ole Miss, Florida, Bryant, Detroit Mercy, and Eastern Michigan (home of Noah Farrakhan and Emoni Bates). And then you've got the conference matchups versus teams like UAB, who will be. one of the best teams in the entire country, WKU, UNT, MTSU, etc.
These are all chances for quality wins that should be vital in what many expect to be a multi-bid conference when March rolls around. So with all this being said, here are my predictions for the FAU MBB team.
KEY WINS: @ Ole Miss, VS UAB, VS UNT, VS Bryant, @ WKU
STANDINGS: 2ND IN C-USA
This team has all the talent, and I believe Dusty May is a pretty good coach. The Owls have been inching closer and closer to a March Madness birth every year, and if everything goes to plan, this very well could be the season where that finally happens. The year where the Owls go dancing.