C-USA teams in Elite Eight: Florida Atlantic joins elite NCAA Tournament company


For the first time since the 2008 NCAA Tournament, a team from out of Conference USA has made the Elite Eight.

Ironically, Florida Atlantic wasn’t even C-USA the last time the conference reached this stage of March Madness. The Owls were still competing out of the Atlantic Sun Conference, making their only previous tournament appearance in 2002.

Not that C-USA is counting that against the Owls, especially with Dusty May’s team reaching a stage seldom enjoyed by the conference. They were able to secure their bid to the Elite Eight with a 62-55 upset over 4-seed Tennessee in Thursday’s Sweet 16 and will now take on Markquis Nowell and Kansas State in the next round.

The Owls, a 9 seed, will be underdogs in that matchup. But that was the case against Memphis in the first round, and Tennessee on Thursday. (FAU played 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson in the second round).

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May’s team will now seek to become just the fourth team in C-USA history to reach the Final Four in the conference’s history. Whether the Owls can make it another round remains to be seen, though that certainly doesn’t take away from what has been an impressive run thus far.

Here’s Conference USA’s history of teams to make the Elite Eight, Final Four and beyond:

Who is last C-USA team to reach the Elite Eight?

The last C-USA team to reach the Elite Eight was Memphis, which advanced all the way to the national championship game against Kansas before ultimately falling 75-68 in overtime. The Tigers held a 63-60 lead in the game’s waning seconds, but Mario Chalmers hit a timely 3 to send the game to overtime.

The Tigers were the No. 1 seed out of the South Region, making their third straight NCAA Tournament run through at least the Elite Eight. At the time they were only the sixth team to reach the Elite Eight out of Conference USA.

MORE: Kansas State’s Markquis Nowell becomes king of New York

C-USA’s best finishes in NCAA Tournament

Apart from that 2007-08 Memphis team, several Conference USA teams have made the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, though none between Memphis in 2008 and Florida Atlantic in 2023.

Tournament Team Seed Round reached Final result
1996 Cincinnati 2 seed Elite Eight 73-63 loss to 5-seed Mississippi State
1997 Louisville 6 seed Elite Eight 97-74 loss to 1-seed North Carolina
2003 Marquette 3 seed Final Four 94-61 loss to 2-seed Kansas
2005 Louisville 4 seed Final Four 72-57 loss to 1-seed Illinois
2006 Memphis 1 Seed Elite Eight 50-45 loss to 2-seed UCLA
2007 Memphis 2 seed Elite Eight 92-76 loss to 1-seed Ohio State
2008 Memphis 1 seed National championship 75-68 OT loss to 1-seed Kansas
2023 FAU 9 seed Elite Eight vs. 3-seed Kansas State

Lowest-seeded C-USA team to reach Elite Eight

Florida Atlantic made history on Thursday by becoming the lowest-seeded team out of Conference USA to ever reach the Elite Eight. Though eight teams out of the conference had previously made this round of the tournament, the next-lowest-seeded team was Louisville in 1997, as a 6 seed.

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