Florida vs. FGCU: Why the Eagles Can Pull off Another Stunning Upset

Justin HussongContributor IIIMarch 29, 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 24: Bernard Thompson #2 of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles celebrates during the closing moments of the Eagles 81-71 win over the San Diego State Aztecs during the Third Round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on March 24, 2013 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Be honest. Your bracket is most likely in shambles right now, so why not root for possibly the most encapsulating Cinderella story college basketball has ever seen?

Florida Gulf Coast is the first 15-seed to reach the Sweet Sixteen in tournament history, and there is no reason to think that the Eagles are going to stop there. With former national champs—Michigan, Kansas, and Florida—remaining in their regions, it is Dunk City that is hogging all the spotlight.

Their nonconference schedule might have been daunting for a program in just its second year of Division I, but FGCU is surely reaping the benefits now. No team scares them, and there is no reason why they cannot take down the mighty Gators.

No Pressure

Does this look like a team afraid of the spotlight? No one even knows where this school is. The Eagles are used to playing in front of mild crowds somewhere in Florida, and now they get to take Dunk City on the road, performing in front of tens of thousands of people at Cowboys Stadium.

The mental aspect of March Madness is crucial. The lower seed always has less pressure because much less is expected of them. As a 15-seed, the Eagles have taken that notion and run rampant with it.

FGCU players are having the time of their lives on this magical run. They have captivated sports fans everywhere with their youthful exuberance. Sports are all about good competition and having fun, and that is exactly what these guys are doing. Move over, Cowboys, there might be a new "America's Team" in your building this weekend.


Style of Play

Dunks, dunks, and more dunks.

It is hard to game-plan for a team that tries to jam as much as possible. Florida does not have a ton of height outside of center Patric Young, so it better be prepared to rotate as much as possible and get out on the break fast to avoid being put on posters.

Led by seniors Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy and Mike Rosario, the Gators are looking to capture their first championship together before the seniors graduate. They have reached the Elite 8 each of the last two years but failed to get over the hump into the Final Four.

FGCU simply does not care. They are on fire, and it has shown as their personalities radiate through their style of play. Any chance they get, they go up and try to throw down. It will be hard for Florida to stay in front of them and with point guard Brett Comer's propensity for chucking lobs up into the sky, it is no small task slowing down this 15-seed.


FGCU started off the season in average fashion. The Eagles challenged themselves with their out-of-conference schedule to see how they could stack up against Duke, Iowa State, VCU and St. John's. Let's not forget they did defeat Miami.

That schedule made their conference games look like a cakewalk. They won 12 of their final 14 games heading into the tournament and with that momentum, they not only beat powerhouses in Georgetown and San Diego State, they flat-out stomped them.

Gulf Coast could not have any more momentum coming into play tonight. They are playing with a reckless abandon and an intensity that will be difficult for Florida to match.

Remember, in March the better team does not always win. You just have to be better than the opposing team for one night. Tonight could very well be that night for the beloved Eagles.