No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast is already the lowest seeded team to ever make the Sweet 16, but in order to continue that run it’ll have to beat in-state powerhouse Florida Friday night at Cowboys Stadium.
The two teams have met once before, back in 2008 with the Gators winning by 34 points, but that was FGCU’s second year of Division-I eligibility, according to the Associated Press.
And it was well before they stomped No. 2 seed Georgetown, and comfortably got by San Diego State 81-71 in the Round of 32 last week.
Guard Bernard Thompson scored 23 points for the second straight game against SDSU, and team-leading scorer Sherwood Brown notched 17 points, while point guard Brett Comer notched 10 points and 14 assists.
Thompson also made a game-high five steals, and the Eagles had 13 total in the game.
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That kind of quick perimeter defense will be necessary against a tested Gators squad averaging 78.5 points and eight 3-pointers in two tournament games.
After quickly dispatching Northwestern State, Billy Donovan’s crew bounced Minnesota from the tournament behind guard Mike Rosario’s 25 points and six 3-pointers for a 78-64 win.
Forward Erik Murphy chipped in 15 points on 5-for-7 shooting, and Scottie Wilbekin had 12 points and six assists, with Florida shot an astonishing 57 percent from the field.
The Gators can make the Elite Eight for the third straight season, and the sixth time under Donovan.
The winner meets either No. 1 Kansas or No. 4 Michigan in the Elite Eight Sunday.
The game tips-off at 9:57 p.m. Eastern and will be broadcast by TBS, or watch a free live online stream at the NCAA March Madness official site here.
Betting Odds: Florida is favored by 12.5 points
Over/Under: 136 points
Prediction: Florida has had a week to prepare for FGCU, and won’t be as surprised as Georgetown and SDSU were. Still the Eagles have shown their scoring prowess and ability to guard against more talented teams. How Comer fares against the Gators will be the determining factor. Look for Florida to end FGCU’s run and advance in a close game.
Predicted Score: Florida 70, FGCU 64