The Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament is here and we will see the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles take on the Florida Gators at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The game is scheduled for a 9:57 pm (Eastern) start time and will be televised on TBS. Currently the Odds for the game have Florida favored by 13 points while the total sits at 136.
Analysis: Florida Gulf Coast joined the Atlantic Sun in 2007, and this season marked only its second year of eligibility for Division I postseason play. The Eagles became the first No. 15 seed in NCAA history to reach the Sweet 16 by blitzing No. 2 seed Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego State. The Eagles have appeared unflappable through two games, riding the wondrous skills of sophomore point guard Brett Comer, the all-around play of backourt mate Sherwood Brown - the Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year - and some high-flying antics that have earned them the moniker "Dunk City." Bernard Thompson scored 23 points in both tournament wins as Florida Gulf Coast continues to bear little resemblance to the team that lost to Lipscomb (twice), East Tennessee State, Stetson and Maine. "They play with a swagger, and they have a right to do that," San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said.
Florida looked like the best team in the country earlier in the season, rolling off 10 straight wins with ease before struggling down the stretch. The Gators are no strangers to the NCAA's biggest stage, having won national championships in 2006 and 2007. The Gators are well equipped to match up against the Eagles. Florida has a deep, experience lineup that features five players averaging between 12.8 and 9.2 points. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin is joined in the backcourt by 2,000-point scorer Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario, who had a career-best 25 points against Minnesota. Forward Erik Murphy provides punch inside, averaging 16.5 points and shooting 72.2 percent in the tournament. Florida thrives on defense, having held 24 opponents under 60 points and limiting 13 to fewer than 50. Finally, coach Billy Donovan knows a little about the dangers of a Cinderella squad. He played point guard and led Providence to the Final Four in 1987. Florida, one of four programs to reach the Sweet 16 the past three seasons, is 5-1 in regional semifinals under Donovan, while Billy is also one of only four men (Dean Smith, Joe B. Hall and Bobby Knight) to appear in a Final Four as a player and win an NCAA title as a coach.
Pick: Going to go with the Gators in this one. FGCU has been a big and pleasant surprise this year, but I feel that the slight layoff may really hurt them here. Florida Coach Billy Donovan has had 5 days to prepare for this team and that is very important when facing an unknown. Also you have to believe that the Gators will really look to take this team apart here. A loss or even a close win may just be enough to take some recruits from the Gators in the near future. Florida really needs to take all the hype away from the Eagles and show that they are clearly the best team in the state of Florida. Now all that motivation is nothing if you don't have the talent to back it up. Well the Gators certainly do and their very tough defense should be able to keep the high flying Eagles under wraps in this one. FGCU has certainly surprised in the big dance, but through the year they also have two losses vs 12-18 Lipscomb, plus DD losses away from home vs Iowa Sate, duke, VCU and St John's. Both Georgetown and San Diego State may have overlooked this team a bit, but the Gators won't make that same mistake as the win easily in what should be more of a personal game for them.
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College Basketball Free Picks: Florida vs Florida Gulf Coast
What college basketball bettors need to know about Florida Gators vs Florida Gulf Coast Eagles on Friday (3/29/13) - a free pick from Pregame.com's Vegas Runner,with Bryan Leonard and host Steve Fezzik.