They’re eager to see how far those tickets will take them.
FAU will play Charleston Southern on Thursday in the CIT tournament, marking only the third postseason appearance in program history.
Lose and their season is over, as would be in any tournament this time of year. Win? Who knows where they’ll go.
But that doesn’t exactly matter at the moment.
The Owls have never won a postseason tournament game, falling to Alabama in the 2002 NCAA Tournament and Miami in the 2011 NIT.
Expected to be yet another rebuilding season, the Owls are arriving in Charleston ahead of schedule.
“It means we’re heading in the right direction,” FAU athletic director Brian White said. “It’s very exciting.”
Despite losing their best player, Jailyn Ingram, 10 games into the season and his replacement, talented freshman Jaylen Sebree, not long afterward, FAU (17-15) is still assured its first winning season since 2011.
FAU enters the tournament having lost three consecutive games and four of its last five. The Owls received a formal invitation to the CIT on Friday, but May wanted to discuss with his players the idea of extending the season before accepting the bid.
“There was no resistance,” May said. “Every single player said they were excited to play.”
For a most the extra game offered something new.
“I’ve never had a chance to play in the postseason before, so it gives me another chance to play college basketball,” senior guard Anthony Adger said.
Without knowing their opponent, May elected to use the extra practices afforded the Owls by playing in the postseason to work on aspects they needed to improve for next season, including beating the kind of half-court pressure defense La. Tech employed in the second half to bounce FAU from the C-USA Tournament in the first round.
May didn’t learn the Owls drew Charleston Southern, a team that employs than kind of harassing half-court defense, until late Sunday night.
“Coincidentally, a couple of the situations we had been working on are how Charleston Southern plays,” May said. “Hopefully that will be some benefit to us.”
Charleston Southern (17-15) finished sixth in the Big South. After a slow start to the season the Buccaneers won 10 of their final 14 games.
Should FAU defeat CSU, the Owls could jump on a bus and head to places like East Tennessee, Hampton or Louisiana-Monroe for a game that could be played as early as Saturday. There aren’t any set brackets in the CIT, so FAU wouldn’t learn its opponent until late Thursday at the earliest.
There are 26 teams playing in the CIT, so the first round will produce 13 winners. The three top-ranked winners will receive a bye in the second round, with the other 10 teams batting for the five final spots in the elite eight.
Should FAU get that far the Owls actually have the potential to host a game, which would be played between March 27-31.
The semifinals are scheduled for April 2, with the tournament champion crowned on April 4. All games are played on campus.