South Region Wrap, Day 4: FGCU Turns Wells Fargo Center Into The Rucker

Florida Gulf Coast doesn’t need to play another game in this tournament to be street-certified. I’m talking about all of the streets with internet access and interest in following the tourney. The Eagles are certified hustlers on every single one of those corners. 

They made history by becoming the first No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 with their win against San Diego State. Not that this wouldn’t have been historic if Florida Gulf Coast was an eight or nine seed, because the mettle they’ve shown in their two tournament appearances has caught the general viewing public by storm.

Everyone knows who the Eagles are at the moment. They are the VCU of 2011 and the George Mason of 2006, in terms of the squad to snatch your attention out of nowhere. Sherwood Brown was a decent high school player in Orlando, but he wound up at Florida Gulf Coast for a reason. Either these raw talents went unchecked or these guys are overachieving in a serious way. 

Sometimes the Eagles seem a bit out of control. There were several instances when they either went for shot fakes or to block a shot, then landed hard on a San Diego State player.

But this intuitive style to play balls out and leave everything on the floor — including that audacious athleticism from the players, black and white, alike – is simply magnetic.

Interesting thing about the Florida Gulf Coast revolution is how so many hoop-heads feel like they’ve been duped. Where has this gift to college basketball been all season, and to hell with good things coming to those who wait.

We wouldn’t bandwagon on this if someone had hipped us when they beat Miami, or if we knew back then that Miami was going to be for real.

The Eagles are having just as much fun as we are, apparently. They have to be, if they’re knowingly doing this on national television.









With Kansas breezing past North Carolina and Florida doing the same against Minnesota, it killed the Coach vs. Coach storyline that hyped both matchups. It was Roy Williams coming off his 700th win and playing against his former school of 15 years. We all know there’s no love lost, at least on Kansas’ end of that relationship.

Billy Donovan and Tubby Smith are from the Rick Pitino coaching tree at Kentucky, but let’s just say they’ve been on opposite sides of post-Wildcat glory for some years now.

There’s a good reason why coaches like to play these narratives down so much, and it showed on the basketball court Sunday night. A coach can’t save his squad if a better one comes out to play that night.

North Carolina had Kansas pinned in both the beginning and end of the first half, when the Jayhawks clearly weren’t really about anything. But once Travis Releford got his swerve on, with Jeff Withey on cleanup duty, the Jayhawks proved to be overwhelming for Roy’s team. 

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