Introducing Cinderella: Meet the North Florida Ospreys

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Conference: Atlantic Sun

Coach: Matthew Driscoll

Record: 23-11 (12-2)

Rankins and Ratings:

Kenpom: 127
RPI: 165 (per NCAA’s official numbers)
AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding: 16

Names you need to know: G Dallas Moore (15.9 ppg, 3.6 apg), G/F Beau Beech (12.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg), F Chris Davenport (11.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg), G Jalen Nesbitt (10.8 ppg, 3.4 apg)

Stats you need to know: The Ospreys have multiple players capable of knocking down shots, as they’re shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from beyond the arc on the season. They’re also a good foul shooting team, as they’ve connected on 72.4 percent of their attempts. Six players average at least 8.9 points per game, and they’ve rolled out the same starting lineup in 33 of their 34 games. The one exception: their win at Stetson January 17, in which reserve Trent Mackey started in place of forward Chris Davenport (one-game suspension).

Tendencies: Driscoll’s Ospreys tend to play man defensively, and they limited teams to just over 43 percent shooting from the field and 31.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Offensively North Florida scored nearly 36 percent of its points from beyond the arc, with 42.3 percent of their shot attempts coming by way of the bonus shot per kenpom.com.

Big wins/bad losses: Their biggest win of the season came on December 6, as they beat Purdue 73-70 in West Lafayette. Within the A-Sun the Ospreys swept everyone, including FGCU, with the exception of USC Upstate. The Spartans won both regular season meetings between the two, with North Florida winning the tournament final on their home floor. UNF also lost by two to Northwestern, and their worst loss came at Austin Peay New Year’s Eve.

How’d they get here?: Having clinched home court throughout the Atlantic Sun tournament, North Florida won three straight games to grab the automatic bid. After beating Stetson and Lipscomb by 14-point margins, UNF relied on its defense late to beat USC Upstate 63-57 in the A-Sun tournament final. Demarcus Daniels scored 22 points and grabbed six rebounds off the bench for the Ospreys, who went on a 12-0 second half run to regain control after the Spartans took a 48-44 lead.

Outlook: No 16-seed has ever beaten a one-seed in the NCAA tournament, so that part of the equation will be a difficult one for North Florida. The question is whether or not they’ve done enough to avoid being sent to Dayton for the First Four. Part of that will depend on the results of other conference tournaments, but even if they do make that trip it gives North Florida (and the Atlantic Sun) the opportunity to earn an extra tournament unit that can be so lucrative financially to smaller conferences.

How do I know you?: You’ve likely heard the name in recent weeks thanks to debates about Purdue’s NCAA tournament worthiness. And¬†Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley is a graduate of North Florida. This will be their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.