Clueless about FAU basketball? (Who isn’t?) Here’s what you need to know to not sound dumb for the Final Four.

Tribune Content Agency

The Florida Atlantic University men’s basketball team is enjoying a breakthrough year. The Owls were ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time, they had a nation’s best 20-game winning streak, and now, they’re remarkably playing in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four, which puts the Owls at an elite level.

Not bad for a university not known too much outside of South Florida and team that had only been in the NCAA Tournament once before, in 2002.

Now that the Owls (35-3) are playing in the national semifinals against San Diego State (31-6) at 6 p.m. Saturday in Houston, it’s time to brush up on the local team so you can have a conversation with the person next to you at the bar or at a watch party — or be able to talk smack with San Diego State fans on social media.

— Homegrown: Three Owls players went to high school in South Florida: Giancarlo Rosado (Palm Beach Lakes), Michael Forrest (Ely) and Alejandro Ralat (St. Andrew’s).

— Regrets? Not so much now: Dusty May, a former assistant coach at Florida, is in his fifth year as head coach at FAU. He recently revealed he accepted the job before seeing the FAU facilities, and after he did, he thought he’d made a mistake accepting the job. He was asked what Dusty May’s 2023 self would tell Dusty May in 2018. His reply: “Stop being a big baby, stay the course.”

— Johnell Davis is the Owls’ best player: The 6-foot-4 sophomore guard from Gary, Ind., called “Nelly” by coaches and teammates, is the Owls’ leading scorer at 13.9 points per game. A versatile scorer, Davis can finish with either hand, shoot 3-pointers, mid-range jumpers and run the floor.

“If Nelly was 6-foot-7,” May said, “he’d already be playing in the NBA.”

The other starting players are Nick Boyd, Alijah Martin and Bryan Greenlee and Vladislav Goldin.

— Sound like you have been watching the whole tourney: The Owls, the tournament’s No. 9 seed in the East Region, have defeated No. 8 seed Memphis (66-65), No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson (78-70), No. 4 seed Tennessee (62-55) and No. 3 seed Kansas State (79-76) on their way to the Final Four.

— What is it they are doing? The Owls don’t necessarily have any pregame traditions. However, before player introductions the players lean into each other and do this body check/shoulder bump/forearm bump type of thing. They do it among players and with assistant coaches and staffers on the bench. May doesn’t participate.

— Beach Boys? FAU likes their nickname “Beach Boys,” but the origin isn’t quite clear. Obviously the beach is relatively near the school, which is located in Boca Raton, east of Interstate 95.

Of course, San Diego State could also be considered a beach school.

But the Owls didn’t embrace the idea of this Final Four matchup being billed as “Beach Boys vs. Beach Boys.”

“There’s only one set of Beach Boys,” Boyd said. “We do embrace that title. We got that title from another group of people and we just embraced what they said about us and took it to another level.

“We go as Beach Boys, and we go as Pit Bulls. Either or. We’ll be happy with it.”

His preference?

“I like to be called a Pit Bull,” Boyd said, causing his nearby teammates to erupt in laughter. “That’s me, though.”

By the way, the Owls say they vaguely know the musical group, The Beach Boys. They’ve heard The Beach Boys were loose and free, so that fits their offensive style. But they say their defensive style more resembles a Pit Bull.

— Tickets remain the biggest stress of the Final Four: Deciding who gets Final Four tickets and who doesn’t is brutal for FAU players. Not only must they make tough decisions on who gets tickets and who doesn’t, they must personally deliver the bad news.

“That’s probably the most stressful thing to do right now,” Martin said earlier in the week. “Being so limited with tickets and a lot of people are reaching out and you have to tell real Day One people, ‘No, you can’t have a ticket. I’m limited.’

“That’s been the hardest thing, honestly.”

— Temperament? These guys are unshakable: Nothing rattles FAU. They’re pretty cool under pressure. You saw Forrester calmly hitting four free throws in the final 18 seconds at Madison Square Garden to secure an Elite Eight win over Kansas State.

Forrester said he knew he’d hit the free throws because he’d put in the work in practice.

That’s what keeps this team calm.

Nothing fazes them.

Don’t expect them to crack under the Final Four pressure because they’ve put in the work, according to May.

“I would be shocked if there’s any moment that’s too big for our guys,” May said, “because they’re going to put in the work, they trust each other, and their preparation is impeccable.”