Everyone watching the NCAA Tournament was wondering if the clock would strike midnight for the Cinderella team of 2013, Florida Gulf Coast University. The team that has captured the hearts of Southwest Florida and basketball fans across the country didn’t disappoint as they made NCAA Tournament history on Sunday night. The FGCU Eagles defeated the San Diego State University Aztecs 71-61 and became the first 15 seed team to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in the history of the tourney.
In a game that was eerily similar to their victory over the Georgetown Hoyas, the Eagles really turned it on nearly halfway through the second half. FGCU had to play the final six minutes of the first half and most of the first part of the second half without their inspirational leader, Sherwood Brown because of foul problems. However, as he returned to the game, you could sense momentum was turning, and in a big way.
The Eagles inched out to an eight-point lead with 8:33 remaining. Then 10 points at 8:02. 12 points at 6:54. The Eagles were up by 14 at the 5:40 mark. 16 points by 5:20. The Eagles held a 19-point lead with 3:43 remaining and it was Friday night all over again.
The fledgling university that should have been overwhelmed by simply reaching the March Madness Tournament isn’t fazed by the pressure. These young men seem to behave as if they expected all along that they’d be right where they are.
These kids are fun to watch. The players are exceptionally athletic and have great vision coupled with a fantastic sense of awareness of where their teammates should be. They have captivated the nation and all of Southwest Florida, a region generally focused on Spring Training baseball at this time of year.
As a resident of Ft Myers, I have to say that I have gotten caught up in the Eagles fever sweeping the area. It’s been a fun ride. Can they beat the University of Florida? Sure, anything is possible and I wouldn’t bet against this group of young men. If their ride through the tourney stops this Friday, so be it. These two wins have done more for FGCU and their program than any amount of money could have purchased.
It’s been a great story and hopefully they won’t be done after playing the Gators later this week. I know that the Eagles, under the leadership of coach Andy Enfield and Sherwood Brown aren’t going to be intimidated.
In the mean time, you can get familiar with the new FGCU theme song, Dunk City.
Eric Schmidt is the owner/editor of thepigskinreport.com. You can follow Eric on Twitter @bucco40 and make sure to visit the pigskinreport FB page. Make sure to visit our other sites- hardballchat.com, roundballchat.com and centericechat.com for all of your sports needs.