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Northwestern vs. Florida Atlantic 2024 March Madness Odds and Preview

By Hank Blaine

The first game of Friday’s first-round action from the NCAA Tournament is from Brooklyn as East Region No. 9 Northwestern of the Big Ten and No. 8 Florida Atlantic of the American Athletic Conference face off in the afternoon. The Owls were a Final Four team last year and are short favorites.

The Wildcats and Owls are meeting for the second time in program history, with NU winning the first matchup 69-59 on Nov. 21, 2005. The winner of Friday’s matchup will battle the winner of the first-round game between No. 1 UConn and No. 16 Stetson. Pretty safe to say that will be the defending national champion Huskies.

Northwestern Wildcats vs. Florida Atlantic Owls 2024 March Madness First Round Game Information

Why Bet on the Northwestern Wildcats?

In a year full of teams that lacked signature wins, Northwestern never had to worry about getting an NCAA Tournament bid. Overtime victories over both Purdue and Illinois in Evanston after beating Dayton solidified the Wildcats’ spot on the bracket.

Not a heck of a lot was expected from Northwestern this season, but it finished tied for third in the Big Ten behind star Boo Buie, a first-team All-Big Ten pick. He became the first Wildcat to earn unanimous first-team All-Big Ten recognition in program history, and the first to earn consensus first-team All-Big Ten honors since John Shurna in 2012. Earlier this season, Boo Buie passed Shurna as Northwestern’s all-time leading scorer. Buie currently holds the record with 2,156 career points.

During the regular season, Buie ranked fourth in the Big Ten in both scoring and assists, averaging 18.9 points per game while dishing out 5.2 assists per game, the only player in the league to rank in the top five of both categories. During conference play, Buie became the first Big Ten player to record 20-plus points and 5-plus assists per game since 2015-16. Buie leads the nation with eight games this season with 20-plus points and seven-plus assists. The next closest high-major player has recorded four games.

Teammate Brooks Barnhizer was named third-team All-Big Ten. In his first season as a starter in the Northwestern lineup, Barnhizer put up 14.6 points and a team-best 7.3 rebounds per game. Barnhizer was also tabbed to the league’s All-Defensive Team.

The Cats did suffer a big injury loss late in the regular season in guard Ty Berry, done for the year with a torn meniscus. The 6-foot-3 senior was averaging 11.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. Berry started 23 games for the Wildcats this season and logged 110 appearances over four years in the program. Senior center Matthew Nicholson’s status is up in the air with a foot injury.

Northwestern is appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in program history and holds a 2-2 all-time record in NCAA action. This marks the program’s first-ever back-to-back NCAA Tournament bids, and all three tournament trips in school history came with coach Chris Collins at the helm.

Why Bet on the Florida Atlantic Owls?

FAU will be a part of March Madness for the second straight year and the third time in program history after posting a 25-8 record, already their second most wins in a season. The Owls had to sweat out Selection Sundy as they didn’t win either the AAC regular season or tournament titles.

Florida Atlantic was a No. 9 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament and made it all the way to the Final Four, losing by a point to No. 5 seed San Diego State. Pretty much everyone is back from that Owls team for highly coveted coach Dusty May. This is FAU’s first year in the AAC, though.

Johnell Davis was named the Co-AAC Player of the Year and first-team All-Conference, while junior guard Alijah Martin and junior center Vlad Goldin were named to the All-Conference second team. In the regular season, Davis averaged 18.2 points per game (fourth in the conference) on 47.9% shooting from the field and 43.8% on three-point attempts, while also tallying 6.3 rebounds per game (most among AAC guards) and dishing out a team high 95 assists.

Goldin had a career year, finishing the regular season with a career high 15.2 points per game (10th in the conference, first among all centers) on 66.7% shooting from the field (third in the nation), 6.8 rebounds per game (10th in the conference), and 1.6 blocks per game (fourth in the conference). Martin averaged 14.3 points per game with 6.8 rebounds and 1.7 steals in conference play.

Northwestern vs. Florida Atlantic Betting Trends

  • Northwestern is 6-2 ATS in the last 8 games.
  • Wildcats are 1-4 SU in its last 5 games played in March.
  • The total went under in 6 of Northwestern’s last 9 games.
  • Florida Atlantic is 7-13 ATS in the last 20 games.
  • Owls are 4-1 SU in its last 5 games.
  • The total went over in 4 of Florida Atlantic’s last 5 games.

Northwestern vs. Florida Atlantic Expert Prediction

FAU takes the win on Friday night and heads into the Second Round.

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This is just one of the many sports betting guides that you can read here at Nitrobetting news. Stay tuned for more 2024 March Madness Tournament previews and articles, and don’t forget to check out the latest college basketball odds on our online Crypto sportsbook.

*All odds stated are subject to change without prior notice.

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