Florida Gulf Coast: Sweet 16 Loss Doesn't Tarnish Magical NCAA Tournament Run

Daine Pavloski@@dpavloskiAnalyst IIMarch 30, 2013

FGCU had an improbable run that basketball fans won't forget for a very long time.
FGCU had an improbable run that basketball fans won't forget for a very long time.Rob Carr/Getty Images

Every great story has to come to an end some time. America's latest feel-good sports story came to an end on Friday night at the hands of the now-villainous Florida Gators. 

Florida Gulf Coast University may be out of the NCAA tournament after losing 62-50, but Dunk City players, fans and faculty shouldn't consider this a loss. It's all about the journey anyway, right?

In this case, it is. 

The Eagles had one of the most impressive and surprising runs in recent sports history. They started their unlikely streak by winning the last five games of their regular season, earning the automatic bid from the Atlantic Sun conference.

It was their first-ever bid to play in the NCAA tournament, and they wouldn't waste the amazing opportunity.

They were matched up against No. 2 Georgetown in the South Region in a game that very few people even gave a second look. That is, until the game started.

All of a sudden, the other games kept cutting to what looked like a game on the AND1 Mixtape Tour. Fans were half expecting to see Hot Sauce or Half-Man, Half-Amazing come out and embarrass some poor Hoyas defender. 

FGCU kept dunking and shooting until it had done the unthinkable, winning 78-68, a 10-point margin of victory. The Eagles did it in glorious fashion. They were throwing sick alley-oops, knocking down threes and throwing down thunderous slam dunks throughout.

The magic didn't stop there. They went on to beat San Diego State 81-71 in another improbable victory complete with all of the same fanfare and exciting play style. 

Meanwhile, the small university from Fort Myers, Fla., was becoming famous.

The town took on the name Dunk City due to its team's high-flying antics. FGCU merchandise flew off the racks, and rightfully so. FGCU was just the seventh No. 15 seed to move on to the round of 32 and the first No. 15 ever to see the Sweet 16. 

Yes, the Eagles would lose their Sweet 16 game to the Gators. And while winning is what this whole tournament is about, that's not necessarily what it was about for FGCU.

Sure, the Eagles wanted to win the game, but they had already won. If they won against the Gators, it was another crazy upset from a team which had no right being there. If they lost, big whoop, a No. 15 seed got beat. 

This magical postseason run for the Eagles will go down in college basketball lore. It will be a team and a run that FGCU players, fans, families, students and faculty will talk about and remember forever.

Every year during March Madness, basketball fans will be reminded of the improbable run by a ragtag group of high-flying, fast-breaking, chicken-dancing madmen who played the game with reckless abandon.

And it worked. 

The Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles might have been eliminated from the 2013 NCAA tournament, but they aren't eliminated from the highlight reels they filled with amazing plays, our memories or our hearts. 

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