The Sweet 16 is set. Florida Gulf Coast University makes history
Darlings of the dance
A school out of the Atlantic Sun Conference from Fort Myers, Fla., called the Eagles made the most noise over the weekend in reaching the Sweet 16.
Florida Gulf Coast University became the first 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, and in doing so captivated college basketball fans across the country.
Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield said the team's goal was to make history, and they did.
The Eagles and their fun-loving, high-flying, chicken-dancing style olley-ooped their way through second-seeded Georgetown with a 10-point victory Friday, and used a 17-0 run late in the second half of its game against San Diego State to propel them to victory over the Aztecs.
And with that, the chicken-dancing ensued.
But are we really that shocked?
FGCU knocked off Miami 63-51 back in November, at least making it known this team can hang with the big programs.
This team isn't just a Cinderella, they can hoop. With guards Sherwood Brown, Bernard Thompson and Brett Comer, and high-risers Chase Fieler and Eric McKnight, the Eagles are playing a fun brand of basketball.
Up next for FGCU is a date with Florida in the Sweet 16. This will be their toughest test. Will they be able to keep this magical run alive?
Garland for the layup
LaSalle used a last-second layup from guard Tyrone Garland to get past 12-seeded Ole Miss and free-shooting guard Marshall Henderson. The Explorers haven't gone this far in the dance since the days of Tom Gola. LaSalle, a team people debated whether they should have even made it into the tournament, is proving it belongs. Next they will play another upstart in the Wichita State Shockers for a trip to the Elite 8. Who had that matchup in their bracket?
2 in from ACC
Miami needed a clutch 3-pointer from guard Shane Larkin and an iffy call from the referees to lift them past Illinois and into the Sweet 16. The Hurricanes didn't play their best game against the Illini, but they did what good teams are supposed to - survive and advance. Larkin and the Hurricanes now meet Marquette in a Big East-ACC Sweet 16 showdown. The guard matchup between Vander Blue and Larkin will be a big-time battle. Blue may be the MVP of the tournament through the first weekend of play - game-winner against Davidson and 29 points against Butler.
Duke made it through to the round of 16 with a win against Doug McDermott and Creighton, despite lackluster performances from Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee, 11 points combined. But in winning, the Blue Devils showed it can pull games out without big stat lines from its stars. Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon stepped up for Duke with 21 points and Seth Curry hit some big shots when it was needed. The most impressive stat of the game was Duke's defense holding McDermott to 4-of-16 shooting and locking him down all night. The Blue Devils move on to play Michigan State in what Coach Mike Krzyzewski promised will be big-time college basketball.
Big Ten powers on
The Wolverines dominated what looked like an unbeatable VCU team. Shaka Smart's kids looked like an NBA team in demolishing Akron in its first game of the tournament, but had Michigan return the favor to them in its next game in winning 78-53. Michigan got a complete performance from its talented bunch, Trey Burke, 18 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III, 14 points each, and Mitch McGary, 21 points and 14 rebounds.
Big Blue will need more of the same from these guys if it hopes to knock off top-seeded Kansas, who used a big second-half to run past North Carolina in its third-round matchup, sending Rock Chalk Nation to the Sweet 16.
Ohio State got all it could handle from the Cyclones of Iowa State before Aaron Craft saved the Buckeyes with a game-winning three, 18 points. Deshaun Thomas had 22 points and LaQuinton Ross added 17 for the Buckeyes. Iowa State fell just short in pulling out the upset, shooting 48 percent from three-point range, 12-for-25. Ohio State will play Arizona in its Sweet 16 matchup.
Indiana and Victor Oladipo, 16 points, pulled out a close one against Temple and Khalif Wyatt, 31 points. Wyatt was on fire but the problem for the Owls was no one else was. The Hoosiers executed down the stretch but will need to play better if they are going to keep their tournament run alive against Syracuse, who has the talent to beat Indiana.
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