It’s a partly cloudy, 76-degree afternoon in Boca Raton, Florida, and Dusty May is the place you possibly can spot him most days: strolling laps round Florida Atlantic’s athletic services. May’s burned a thousand-plus energy and hoofed greater than 8 miles within the first half of the day, in accordance to his Apple Watch.
May’s been up since 6:30 a.m. He instinctively scrolls via college and NBA scores every morning, then units apart 30-40 minutes to learn or watch groups unrelated to FAU and/or its upcoming opponents. After an “ice-cold” bathe and a fast scoot to the workplace (May lives 1.5 miles from campus and bikes to work most days) he had to step outdoors, once more, to take my name.
“Unofficial staff rule,” May stated.
If any of FAU’s coaches anticipate to be on the telephone greater than two minutes, they’re to get within the sunshine for some strolling whereas speaking. The protocol is working: May and his FAU Owls are one of many sunniest tales of the 2022-23 season.
In his fifth yr as a head coach, May is overseeing the most effective Florida Atlantic marketing campaign in program historical past and serving to writer among the best tales in college hoops. The Owls moved from twenty fourth to twenty first on this week’s AP Top 25. These previous two weeks are the college’s solely two weeks being ranked — ever. At 19-1, FAU stands with Purdue and Charleston as the one one-loss groups within the nation.
The Owls have received 18 straight, together with 4 of their most up-to-date 5 approaching the highway.
“As a staff we laugh a little about it after games,” May advised CBS Sports. “We reflect for a little bit, talk about our next opponent. But like five or six times, I’ve said, ‘Are we really 6-1, 7-1, 10-1, 12-1? Have we really not lost since Ole Miss?’ We don’t talk about it amongst ourselves as coaches, but we’ll address it with our team.”
That’s been taking place extra as of late. It’s one factor for a mid-major to get via the primary month with just one loss. That will flip some heads. But to go deep into January with a single scratch? Now comes the nationwide consideration. Now comes extra reward, extra folks discovering gamers’ cell numbers, extra calls from dad and mom to be extra aggressive.
“We need to be prepared for these things,” May stated. “[I’m worried] our competitive spirit will be different. I’m terrified of playing cool, now with the level of attention. They are a hard-nosed group. Don’t get pretty, don’t get cool. I don’t want us to get complacent.”
This is all fairly the bounce from Oct. 27, 2018: May’s first recreation, an exhibition towards close by Lynn University. May started his head teaching profession with a loss to a D-II faculty. He was so uncomfortable that night time, he did not know whether or not to sit or stand whereas teaching. He sat. His spouse observed and advised him not to do it once more. Two weeks later, in FAU’s D-I opener at UCF, the primary common season recreation of May’s tenure additionally led to an upset, solely that point in his favor. The Owls beat the UCF team with Tacko Fall that might go on to almost topple Zion Williamson and Duke within the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Since then, FAU had been a regular however unremarkable story in Conference USA, ending above .500 each season below May.
Nobody noticed this phenomenal season coming.
It’s not simply that FAU is a good mid-major team with a gaudy file. The Owls’ eight highway wins are tied for many within the nation. Their metrics are elite for a small faculty: fifteenth in Strength of Record, 18th within the NET, twenty fifth in KPI, thirty eighth at KenPom. If the NCAA Tournament began tomorrow, FAU would be a single-digit seed.
What makes this much more unlikely is this system’s lack of historical past. In the realm of college basketball, FAU is a beginner. The faculty performed its first basketball recreation in 1988. The Owls joined Division I in ’93. They’ve made only one NCAA Tournament (2002). In 2023, May has assured this system a fifth consecutive successful season — these previous 5 successful years quantity to half of FAU’s whole variety of seasons above .500 in its historical past.
And when FAU will get to 22 wins within the coming week or two, this season will turn out to be this system’s winningest.
“This team is as competitive as any I’ve ever been around,” May stated. “Competitive spirit encompasses almost our entire roster. Almost every minute of every day. If we’re flat, we turn on the scoreboard and instantly our guys go into savage mode.”
The team embraces the grind of its unusual C-USA journey schedule, and there is no moaning over name instances for exercises. Coming off their current brutal highway swing, the ultimate day encompassed a 4:30 a.m. wakeup name in El Paso, Texas, and concluded in Boca Raton 12 hours later. This was on an off day.
The subsequent morning, guys have been again within the fitness center properly earlier than 10 a.m. Nobody was late.
You need a motive to belief this team in March? Why it’s best to contemplate choosing it to win a recreation (or two?) in your bracket? The largest think about FAU’s success is familiarity. The Owls introduced again eight of the highest 9 guys within the rotation, together with Nick Boyd, who missed all of final season with a damaged foot. FAU ranks twenty third in year-over-year minutes continuity at KenPom and is sixteenth in bench minutes. The core got here again hungry and pissed. Last season led to a sputter. FAU completed 3-6, and to May’s rely, there have been six video games they discovered a method to lose as a substitute of carving out a route to victory.
“We had worries about poaching from the portal,” May stated. “But the group had a close bond, and genuinely these guys will be friends after playing together. The offseason workouts felt different, a different level of positive energy. They were competing against each other in the right way. Going hard against each other but supporting each other.”
Five gamers common between 9.2 and 12.7 factors. There is no star. Seven gamers have the inexperienced gentle from deep, and these seven collectively shoot 22.5 treys per night time for a top-30 team in 3-point accuracy (37.7%).
What additionally helps, and this is no small factor: May stated the blokes love basketball. Not simply enjoying it, however absorbing it. They watch college and NBA ball continually, hear to basketball podcasts and ensconce themselves within the sport mainly on daily basis.
“This team watches more basketball than the last 10 teams I’ve been around,” May stated.
That’s the stuff that helps the employees from stressing too a lot about this success. The Owls maintain a three-game lead in C-USA. If they get to postseason play with three or fewer losses, this may be your hottest Cinderella decide in March Madness. Only factor is: their seed might be too good to qualify for Cinderella standing.
History suggests might be Duke headed for bother
Unranked Duke fell to 14-6 after dropping 78-75 at Virginia Tech. The hobbled Blue Devils are wobbling once more. Fact is, Jon Scheyer’s checking off a lot of undesirable packing containers within the First Year Coaching Challenge. Between accidents and diseases, Scheyer advised me Duke’s had solely a few practices for the reason that begin of preseason with everybody accessible to take part.
Duke is anticipated to announce a prognosis Wednesday on promising freshman/key wing Dariq Whitehead, who was final seen along with his left foot wrapped in ice as he stood on crutches Monday night time after touchdown awkwardly within the second half. (We’ll replace the Court Report when that information lands.)
“We’ve had a lot thrown at us, and I believe we will be tougher,” Scheyer advised CBS Sports. “[It will be] better for us. Short-term and long-term.”
Historically talking, Duke is staring down an undesirable end within the subsequent two months. The Blue Devils are anticipated to occupy a spot in or close to the highest 10 within the rankings by late January. Shy of that, Duke nearly all the time has a quantity subsequent to its identify. But that is not this team’s actuality, nor does it really feel like its future. This yr marks simply the fourth time up to now 40 seasons that Duke has misplaced no less than six of its first 20 video games. The different three cases did not finish properly:
- 2020-21: 11-9; completed 13-11, missed NCAAs
- 1995-96: 12-8; completed 18-13 as 8-seed, misplaced in first spherical
- 1994-95: 10-10; completed 13-18, missed NCAAs
As I’ve stated a few instances on Eye on College Basketball, there’s a good probability this team is merely … fantastic. Not superb, not horrible, only one mixing into the surroundings of the season. That would not make for large headlines or spicy dialog, I do know. Maybe this is going to be a good factor for Scheyer, who’s doing a good job dealing with a lot of roster dysfunction in Year 1.
Duke is by no means an underdog for sensible functions, however hear me out. In a down ACC, might the Devils be positioning themselves to play spoiler — each in league play and probably for March? Yes, March. For all of this team’s setbacks, it is not going to miss the NCAAs. Scheyer will get Duke into the Big Dance.
Baylor regains its Final Four potential
Baylor coach Scott Drew is aware of all about how well being can impression a team’s fame (publicly) and spirit (privately). The Bears went from preseason Big 12 favorites and No. 5 within the rankings to out of the polls by early January, thanks being 10-5 with an 0-3 Big 12 begin. The ignored component was dropping Adam Flagler and L.J. Cryer for 5 whole video games some weeks again. With each absolutely wholesome once more, we’re seeing why Baylor nonetheless has Final Four potential.
I caught up with Drew by telephone on Tuesday as he scoured via the Kansas tape at his residence, attempting to decide up on the small stuff he and his employees missed in actual time Monday night time.
“I’m 10 minutes through the first half, we’re up 23-12, so right now we’re really good,” he stated with a giggle.
Is Baylor again? Really, it by no means left. Its two most up-to-date losses got here by a whole of three factors to Kansas State and TCU, groups which can be a mixed 33-7, with the Ok-State recreation requiring additional time.
“When you lose a one-possession game it doesn’t mean you played terrible,” Drew stated. “So often we always assume, hey things are broke, but really, one possession could be one free throw, it could be a million things.”
Flagler and Cryer mixed for 39 factors Monday to elevate BU over Kansas, marking the primary time in program historical past the Bears beat the Jayhawks twice in a row (they final met in February 2022). Not solely did Baylor elbow-off the Jayhawks, it did it with a huge push to begin the sport and maintained its vitality regardless of a two-day turnaround after holding on at Oklahoma by two Saturday.
Fact: Baylor is the second-youngest team by expertise within the Big 12 (solely Kansas is youthful). Beyond that, Baylor is the one team enjoying three freshmen (Keyonte George, Josh Ojianwuna, Langston Love) 15 or extra minutes per recreation.
“The Big 12 is a different beast. Those freshmen have been adjusting to the physicality and speed of the game,” Drew stated. “When you beat Kansas, it does give you confidence because, historically, the past three years, we’ve been the best two programs. You beat them, you know you can beat anybody.”
In the grand scheme, 15-5 is admirable. The Bears additionally declare Quad 1 wins over UCLA and Gonzaga. The program is 12-1 in its final 13 video games towards top-10 competitors, a historic accomplishment. A wounded Arkansas team, with out a highway win to its identify, heads to Waco on Saturday.
The Court Report’s mailbag! Find me, toss a Q and I’ll reply some every week.
I’ll say seven Big 12 groups wind up making the NCAAs, which might match the league file/be the seventh time the convention despatched seven dancing. If you are setting the over/below at 10 NCAA tourney wins for Big 12 groups, I’ll push. In the six earlier cases the place seven Big 12 groups went, the league averaged 7.4 wins — with solely two of these six years getting the Big 12 above 10 victories. Now, the good information is the 2 most up-to-date instances the Big 12 bought seven (2021, 2018), these years went north of 10, however it required groups making the Final Four to clear that bar: Baylor successful all of it in 2021 and Kansas making the Final Four in 2018. Here’s how the Big 12’s fared within the six earlier tournaments with seven bids.
2021: 11 wins
Mark me down for 10 on the cash.
Good query! Johnie brings this up as a result of Purdue is again at No. 1 and there is not one other Big Ten team becoming a member of it within the AP Top 25. While uncommon, it is not unprecedented. The most up-to-date time a Big Six convention had a team at No. 1 however no others ranked was three seasons in the past. Duke was No. 1 in late November/early December of 2019 and no different ACC groups have been ranked that week. Prior to that, you may have to return to the week of Nov. 21, 2016, when No. 1 Kentucky was the lone SEC team within the AP Top 25. (My thanks to CBS Sports’ analysis team for the help on this.)
I’ve minimal confidence I’ll be writing a Mountain West faculty into my Sweet 16. There will be a few groups succesful, however what’s holding me again from confidently projecting that (now) is the probability no MW team will get higher than a No. 6 seed, that means it is unlikely any Mountain West team would be favored twice. I do assume the league will be higher in March Madness this yr, which is.
Let’s go full circle, because it’s objectively Florida Atlantic — and for the primary time ever. The Owls edge Miami, rating forward of The U in some metrics. The Hurricanes can wind up with a higher seed and have the teaching expertise to make a deeper run in March, however FAU has been the higher team via the primary 2.5 months of the season. After the Owls and Hurricanes, I’d put Florida (11-8) and then UCF (13-6). The truth Florida State is not within the high 4, and it is not shut, is downright mystifying.
• Tonight, Pitt will have fun the thirty fifth anniversary of the “Send it in, Jerome!” recreation. An amazing thought, however alas, two issues cannot be repeated about it: Being that the sport will air below the ESPN umbrella (ACC Network), CBS/Fox’s Bill Raftery can not be on the decision in 2023 like he was in 1988. And since Pitt is not within the Big East, the opponent from ’88 (Providence) is not on the desk. Wake Forest comes to city as a substitute.
• Speaking of Providence, Sunday’s Friars-Villanova recreation is organising to be a quagmire for crowd management due to the 49ers-Eagles recreation commencing quickly thereafter. It’s Philly. I’m positive every thing will be fantastic.
• Georgetown ended its infamous Big East win drought at 29 video games with its residence W Tuesday over DePaul, however I’m sending simply as a lot congratulations to Delaware State. The Hornets received in OT at South Carolina State on Monday, snapping a 41-game dropping streak towards Division I foes. What a weight lifted. DSU hosts Morgan State on Saturday. If it wins, would be the primary time this system has logged back-to-back victories since February of 2017 😳
• Green Bay fired Will Ryan Tuesday, that means there are six jobs open and we have not hit February: Texas, Notre Dame, Wofford, Manhattan, Green Bay, North Carolina A&T.
• My learn on Bronny James’ recruitment: USC and Oregon are 50/50. I get why Ohio State was listed among the many finalists, however the Buckeyes do not get him.
• Nevada’s controversial double-OT win Monday night time towards No. 25 New Mexico strengthened the 16-5 Wolf Pack’s NCAA Tournament credentials. If Steve Alford will get there, he’ll tie an NCAA file by teaching 5 colleges to March Madness: Southwest Missouri State, Iowa, New Mexico, UCLA, Nevada.
• I see you, UMass Lowell. Like FAU, the 17-4 River Hawks are having their greatest season as a D-I program (and presently sit atop the America East).
• Temple (12-9) is aiming to have probably the most polarizing résumé. The Owls personal 5 top-80 wins: Rutgers, Houston, Cincinnati, Villanova and VCU. They’ve additionally misplaced to Wagner (277 at KenPom), Penn (152) and UMES (269).
• The OVC: a dangerous league with a good race. Six groups are 5-3 in convention play and tied for first. Metrics declare SIUE (202 at KenPom) to be the most effective of the bunch.
• I wasn’t emotionally hooked up to the outdated Big Ten Tournament brand, however it was actually higher than … this. We enjoying hoops or rolling out cat toys? Simply confounding how usually logos get tousled throughout all sports activities.