Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


March 26, 2013

FGCU's rise worth broken bracket

Ah, where do I start? Less than 72 hours after I predicted the Hoyas of Georgetown would win the national championship and Otto Porter would solidify himself as a top pick in this year's draft, John Thompson III was outcoached and Georgetown was outplayed by some no-name team down South.

Or at the very least, that's what my mind was telling me as I uncomfortably withstood the ridicules of all those I was watching the tournament with on that forgettable Friday night.

Then I began to think about the upset and this Florida Gulf Coast team that made me, as least momentarily, the butt of all jokes. After further examination, the Eagles upset may very well cost me a first-place finish in multiple brackets, but I think it just may be worth it.

I mean, let's think about this for a second. Florida Gulf Coast University, in Fort Myers, has had a shorter existence on this Earth than I have. The school was founded in 1991.

Currently at the tender old age of 22, I was already 20 years old before the Eagles even had the opportunity to appear on a March Madness bracket. They joined the ranks of Division I hoops in 2007 and are currently in their second year of tournament eligibility. To add to that, the Eagles punched their ticket to the dance this season, their first in the brief history of the program, because they won the Atlantic Sun tournament.

That's right, FGCU, which manhandled the mighty Hoyas and looked as calm as ever in their destruction of San Diego State on Sunday, wouldn't have earned a berth in the tournament if it weren't for late-season heroics. This same team lost five conference games, including now-puzzling setbacks to teams like East Tennessee State and Lipscomb. Neither are bottom dwellers, but the Eagles' schedule as a whole should have never prepared FGCU for this kind of magical run to the Sweet Sixteen.

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