Bracket-busting Eagles reach Sweet 16
It might only be the second season of full Division I eligibility in the NCAA, but it has turned into a season of firsts for the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles basketball program.
First appearance in the NCAA Tournament, known as March Madness.
First No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 round of the tournament – ever.
One of seven 15-seed tournament teams to defeat a No. 2 seed in tournament history (achieved with Friday’s 10-point second-round victory over Georgetown).
First Atlantic Sun Conference team to reach the Sweet 16 (achieved with Sunday’s 81-71 victory over San Diego State).
The victories have placed the Eagles program, a decided underdog, in the national spotlight for accolades, while also destroying many thousands of fantasy office and online bracket predictions.
In the third-round game Sunday, FGCU’s Bernard Thompson led all scorers with 23 points to go with five steals. Sherwood Brown, the A-Sun Player of the Year, contributed 17 points, eight rebounds in limited playing time with foul trouble. Brett Comer added 14 assists, a career high, to go with 10 points.
The Eagles (26-10) extend their current winning streak to seven straight.
The postseason win is the fifth overall for conference representatives in the NCAA Tournament.
With Mercer’s first-round victory in the NIT, the A-Sun stands at 3-0 in this year’s postseason play, the fifth straight year the conference has posted at least three postseason wins.
The Eagles next face the Southeastern Conference Champion Florida Gators in the Sweet 16 at Arlington, Texas. The last A-Sun team to defeat the Gators was Jacksonville on Dec. 20, 2010.
And one more thing …
First meeting in tournament history between Florida teams.