Because of its slam dunk unpredictability, maddening finishes and surprising story lines, the annual spring NCAA college basketball tournament always lives up to it’s March Madness moniker.
Once again, this year’s classic event fails to disappoint college hoops junkies.
A new cinderella has emerged, but didn’t crash this year’s Big Dance wearing glittering shoes.
Instead, the new belle of the ball soared into this year’s March Madness sporting eagles wings.
The darling of this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament is unquestionably little known Florida Gulf Coast University from Fort Myers, FL. The FGCU Eagles surged onto the national scene by becoming the tournament’s first ever 15th seed to advance to the Sweet 16. How maddening!
The Eagles easily dispatched favored Georgetown and San Diego State University this past weekend to advance to the Sweet 16 and capture the hearts of college basketball fans.
These brash bracket busters from Southwest Florida with the alphabet soup college name quietly entered this year’s tourney after only a couple years of NCAA Division 1 eligibility. However, the upstart squad has certainly made the most noise with high octane play, rim rattling dunks and unbridled exuberance.
Simply, these Eagles are fun to watch, and they are good, very good. Coached by rising star Andy Enfield, FGCU runs a wide open pro offense that allows for unhindered individual creativity of its three marvelous guards with mad skills – Brett Comer, Sherwood Brown and Bernard Thompson.
The Eagles guards are equally as brazen in the open court as in the half court set. They eschew the clinical approach of more conservative college offenses. They tirelessly push the ball up court and probe their opponents’ defenses with no look passess or precise lobs to long, athletic big men Chase Fieler, Eddy Murray and Eric McKnight. Their frenetic play is crazy at times and a feast for college hoops fans.
Contrary to the businesslike, established programs of college basketball’s elite, FGCU’s scintillating style would never work at Duke, Kansas, Indiana or Michigan State. But, it doesn’t need to because their unexpected style works for them as Big Dance party crashers and for us as lovers of March Madness cinderellas.
For now, the FGCU Eagles’ frightening pace, maddening style and raw joy after upset wins make the NCAA Tournament the surreal and unpredictable enjoyment it has become each spring.
Most CBS Sports, TNT, TBS, TruTV and ESPN talking heads think it’s doubtful that the Eagles will get by its next opponent the Florida Gators. Tradition, history, RPI rankings and strength of schedule figure prominently in the Gators’ favor. But, don’t ground these soaring Eagles just yet.
Remember, this is spring and March Madness is about to enter its round of 16. With the way FGCU has played in the first two rounds, this Cinderella doesn’t need a slipper to soar.
She’s already learned how to fly high on the wings of the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles!
MIKE – aka Mike Raffone – thee ultimate talking head on sports!