East Tennessee State. Middle Tennessee. Nevada. UNC Wilmington. These are the trendy upset picks you’ve heard this week. Those are the teams populating columns and debate shows as people search for the best information to fill out their bracket.
But, it seems to me, everyone is once again overlooking Dunk City.
The champions of the Atlantic Sun are certainly capable of shocking the world as they did a few years ago on their trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Nobody saw Andy Enfield’s group coming, but the 15-seed took down Georgetown and San Diego State before a loss to Florida ended the Cinderella story.
This year’s squad is primed to match that performance, and it will start tonight against Florida State.
The Eagles play a halfcourt style of offense, focused on grinding teams out for buckets close to the hoop. They have the 38th best effective FG% in the country, largely due to the fact that they rely on 2-pointers for 57.5% of their offense (12th highest in the country). FGCU is not going to hoist shots up and get rattled. They are going to use the shot clock and take good shots.
And they will do it with athleticism:
And more athleticism:
As mentioned above, Florida Gulf Coast will run its halfcourt sets at their own tempo. Florida State ranks 52nd in the country in pace, so this slow, grind-it-out style could present issues. FSU played a similar opponent in conference that played slow and attacked the rim: Georgia Tech.
In their one matchup, Georgia Tech beat Florida State 78-56. Florida State looked dazed for much of the game, and FGCU presents much the same trouble to a Seminoles team that wants to get out and run.
Georgia Tech was able to use simple, smart halfcourt action to confuse the FSU defense. In the below clips, watch as Tech uses the high post to set up their guards at the rim:
Now, watch as Florida Gulf Coast does the same in an early season road game at Michigan State. The Eagles lost the game, but gave the Spartans all they could handle. Similar to Georgia Tech, FGCU uses its guards to get to the rim.
Neither Georgia Tech nor Florida Gulf Coast are three-point shooting teams, but if you leave them open, they will make you pay. In the Tech-FSU game, look how FSU fails to locate Quinton Stephens, and it sparks a run that the Seminoles could never overcome.
As stated, FGCU is not going to kill you with the 3-point shot, but if you don’t defend em, LOOK. OUT.
And if the game is close down the stretch, FGCU is going to scrap! Florida State is going to have to remain disciplined, or else they’ll end up like Michigan State on these two possessions:
If Florida Gulf Coast is able to keep the game close and threaten an upset, remember where you read about why it was possible! DUNK CITY IS BACK.