Florida vs. FGCU: Players Set to Shine in Key Tourney Matchup

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IMarch 29, 2013

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 24:  Head coach Billy Donovan talks to Scottie Wilbekin #5 of the Florida Gators in the second half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at The Frank Erwin Center on March 24, 2013 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

A battle for state pride is set to go down in the second night of the Sweet 16 when the Florida Gators take on the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles.

And fans should be excited to see a small handful of players shine bright.

The Gators are incredibly deep and have a fine coach in veteran Billy Donovan. And the team has run the table in the tourney despite being the sole good team in a weak SEC this year.

From stretch four's to excellent shooters, Florida is not a team to be taken lightly under any circumstances.

The Eagles have already slain two giants in Georgetown and San Diego State, and defeating the Gators is next on their list of goals.

The fact is that this game is not going to be one that any March Madness fan should miss, and great performances from these players can (and will) ensure a lot of fireworks from start to finish.


Erik Murphy

As a stretch four, Erik Murphy can do it all for Florida.

He has great size at 6'10", 238 pounds. Murphy posted 12.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He is also shooting 54 percent from the field and 46 percent from long range.

Whether he's playing the post or sinking a jumper, be it from mid-range or beyond the arc, this senior is a tough guard for any opponent. He can diversify his attack so well and has come up huge for the Gators in the tourney. He is averaging 16.5 points and six rebounds per game, and shooting an off-the-charts 72 percent from the field.

If he can keep being a force in the paint as well as the perimeter, the pendulum will swing into the Gators' favor. Of course, if FGCU can slow him down, then the game becomes a lot more interesting.


Sherwood Brown

The undisputed leader of FGCU is going to maintain that role on the floor tonight and continue what has become a great senior season. At just 6'4", 200 pounds, he plays more like an athletic forward than a shooting guard.

Thus far, Brown is averaging 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, plus 1.4 steals. He has shot 47 percent from the floor and 38 percent from long range.

In the Eagles' two tournament games, Brown has been a faster and stronger player. He has posted 20.5 points and 8.5 rebounds, not to mention shot 57 percent from the field.

It's going to be up to him to lead the charge against the Gators tonight, as both teams like to run and are sure to be out to score a lot of points. Since he's the leader of FGCU, it's critical that he keep up with the experienced Florida team.

Otherwise, the Cinderella story could come to an abrupt end.


Mike Rosario

The Gators are a team that like to shoot the ball, and they have done so effectively. This season, they ranked eighth in field goal percentage, and Rosario played a key role in that.

The senior guard is averaging 12.5 points on 45 percent field goal shooting and has also made 38 percent of his threes on the season.

This tournament has been a different story.

Over two games, Rosario is averaging 16.5 points and shooting 52 percent from the field, not to mention 57 percent from long range.

This young man isn't the biggest at 6'3", 183 pounds. But one thing is certain: He can shoot.

If he can get hot like he did in the round of 32 game against Minnesota, then the Gators definitely have a shot at putting the Cinderella story to bed, once and for all.