ARLINGTON, Texas -- A week ago, Florida Gulf Coast University was just another overlooked No. 15 seed -- a longshot at best to nearly everyone eyeballing their NCAA tournament brackets.
Now the Eagles are the high-flying show from "Dunk City" in the round of 16, the darlings of the South Regional and a bracket-busting team everybody is talking about even when surrounded by former national champions Michigan, Kansas and Florida.
"Things have changed dramatically," FGCU coach Andy Enfield said.
"The way we looked at it, we did make history. ... We feel like we shocked the world," said Brett Comer, the guard with 22 points and 24 assists in two NCAA games. "Nobody picked us to beat Georgetown, or San Diego State, for sure. We’re going to prepare for Florida the same way. We’re going to try to win again."
Florida Gulf Coast (26-10) plays the SEC regular-season champion Gators (28-7), the No. 3 seed in the South, on Friday night. The improbable intrastate showdown is magnified even more at Cowboys Stadium, where the court is on a raised stage and below giant high-definition screens that had the players’ attention on Thursday.
This group doesn’t need one of the world’s largest HD displays to appear larger than life, though any highlight dunks sure will look good on the big screens.
How about a few shots up there of their sun-soaked campus in Fort Myers, Fla., with its manmade lakes and a beach? The school’s first classes were held in August 1997, making FGCU younger than the players who have put it on a national stage.
After their two NCAA tournament victories in Philadelphia, the Eagles arrived home early Monday morning. All the players were in back in class a few hours after that, though the atmosphere had certainly changed on the campus with an enrollment of 13,468.
The Eagles are in the round of 16 in only their second season being eligible for the NCAA tournament. Florida, a state school with nearly 50,000 students, has a roster loaded with NCAA experience.