Florida Atlantic Owls vs. Liberty Flames Pick & Prediction NOVEMBER 30th 2023

Liberty will be hunting for an upset when it visits 13th-ranked Florida Atlantic on Thursday night in Boca Raton, Fla.

The Flames, who posted a 27-9 record last season, is off to a 6-0 start to this campaign. Liberty has highlighted that run with wins over Charlotte, Wichita State, Furman and Vermont.

The Flames, a dominant team in the Atlantic Sun over the past five years, have moved up to Conference USA.

Liberty coach Ritchie McKay said his team is handling the move up in class and the early accolades well.

“I’m really pleased with our group,” McKay said after Liberty’s most recent game, a 99-62 win over Maryland Eastern Shore on Saturday. “Any time you have 25 assists on 39 baskets, it’s a great indicator of your selflessness.

“I think it’s easy in this day and age to have a different approach to the game if you’ve gotten a little bit of (media) attention. But our guys didn’t do that. They’ve showed a great deal of maturity.”

The Owls (5-1) and the Flames have not played each other in 21 years.

Florida Atlantic is coming off its triumphant 2022-23 season, which included the program’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four.

So far this season, the Owls have looked like a power, especially last week when they took down the Big East’s Butler, the Southeastern Conference’s Texas A&M and the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Virginia Tech to win the ESPN Events International tournament in Kissimmee, Fla.

The Owls were impressive in beating Virginia Tech by 34 points, holding the Hokies to 15 straight 3-point misses to start the game.

“Our guys are consumed with playing the game the right way,” Owls coach Dusty May said. “They’re a joy to be around.”

The Owls are led by 7-foot-1 center Vladislav Goldin, who tops the team in scoring (14.7) and blocks (2.2). Goldin also is second in rebounds (6.3).

Johnell Davis ranks second on the team in scoring (13.8) and first in boards (6.5).

Alijah Martin, who was named the MVP of the ESPN tournament, ranks third in scoring (12.5) and third in rebounds (5.7).

Bryan Greenlee, a terrific shooter who is making 40.0 percent on 3-pointers, leads the Owls in assists (4.0).

Liberty, meanwhile, is a feisty team that defends tenaciously, limits turnovers and shoots effectively.

Kaden Metheny, a Bowling Green transfer, has been an excellent addition to the Flames, averaging 12.3 points and 3.2 assists.

The Flames also return three starters: forward Kyle Rode, guard Colin Porter and wing Joseph Venzant.

Rode, a preseason first-team All-Conference USA player, leads the Flames in scoring (16.3), 3-point shooting (48.8 percent) and steals (1.3).

Zach Cleveland, a forward who was a backup as a freshman last season, has improved his scoring average from 3.4 to 10.0.

Brody Peebles is another Flames player to watch. He provides instant offense off the bench, ranking second on the team in scoring (14.7). He also leads the team in foul shooting (87.5 percent), and he’s shooting 67.7 percent on 2-pointers and 43.3 percent on 3-pointers.

–Field Level Media