Conference: Atlantic Sun
Coach: Joe Dooley
Record: 20-13 (8-6)
Ratings and Rankings:
– Kenpom: 171
– RPI: 216
– AP/USA Today: Unranked
Seeding: 16, likely headed to Dayton for the First Four
Names you need to know: F Marc-Eddy Norelia (17.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg), G Christian Terrell (12.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg), G Zach Johnson (11.2 ppg, 3.2 apg), G Julian DeBose (8.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
Stats you need to know: FGCU entered Sunday averaging 77.0 points per game, shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from three. Norelia is the headliner for this group, and he’s got help in the front court from players such as Antravious Simmons, Demetris Morant and Filip Cvjeticanin. On the perimeter Terrell and Johnson, who missed all of last season with a heart ailment and was no lock to return to the court, are the top scorers with the experienced DeBose having started all 32 games he’s played in. Also of note is the fact that FGCU is one of the nation’s best at defending the three, as opponents shot just 30.9 percent from deep on the season.
Big wins, bad losses: FGCU doesn’t have a single win against a team ranked in the Top 150 of the RPI, and four of their 20 wins came against non-Division I competition. Their best wins: a season sweep of Atlantic Sun regular season champion North Florida and a home win over UMass. As for the losses, FGCU was swept by Jacksonville and also suffered conference losses to Lipscomb and Stetson.
How’d they get here?: FGCU was the four-seed in the Atlantic Sun tournament, and they opened with a win over No. 5 Kennesaw State. That set up a semifinal matchup with UNF, and the Ospreys (who are highly reliant on the three) went ice cold from deep and FGCU won by 33 on the road. And with the two and three seeds being eliminated in the quarterfinals, FGCU hosted Stetson in the title game. FGCU won 80-78 in overtime, with a Zach Johnson blocked shot in the final seconds preserving the victory.
Outlook: Given the fact that the last FGCU team to reach the NCAA tournament did so much damage, some may assume that this group is on par with the 2012-13 team that reached the Sweet 16 and earned the nickname “Dunk City.” But that team played a far tougher schedule outside of the A-Sun, even picking up a win over that season’s ACC champion (Miami). Going to Dayton would give them a shot at winning a game in the tournament, but it’s tough to expect much beyond that.
How do I know you?: As mentioned above this is FGCU’s second NCAA tournament appearance, and the first trip was an incredibly fun one. In 2013 the Eagles beat No. 2 Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego State in Philadelphia before falling to No. 3 Florida in the Sweet 16. As for this particular team there are two connections to top-ranked Kansas. Head coach Joe Dooley was a long-time assistant of Bill Self’s before taking the FGCU job, and DeBose joined Kansas (as did SMU’s Nic Moore) for the World University Games in South Korea last summer.