For the first time in NCAA tournament history, two teams seeded No. 13 or lower are in the Sweet 16.
No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast University–the high-flying, flashy Cinderella–defeated No. 2 Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego to make the Sweet 16 to play No. 3 Florida in the South Regional. They are the first No. 15 seed to ever make the Sweet 16.
No. 13 La Salle–the tough and gritty Cinderella–is a “First Four” team that defeated Boise State on Wednesday in a play-in game, beat No. 4 Kansas State on Friday, and then got past No. 12 Ole Miss on Sunday to punch their ticket to Los Angeles where they will face No. 9 Wichita State in a Sweet 16 game on Thursday.
There has never quite been a team–let alone a No. 15 seed–like Florida Gulf Coast, a team that plays like there are trampolines in the paint. They are high-flying and play with a sense of purpose and a carefree attitude that makes them a joy to watch. They are from Fort Myers, Florida but might as well rename their campus Dunk City, Florida.
Their head coach, Andy Enfield, made millions as an investor before becoming an NBA shooting coach. He married a supermodel wife whom he met in New York City. He had to take to Taco Bell on their first official date when all the restaurants on the St. John’s campus were closed after they went to a basketball game.
Sherwood Brown, Brett Comer, and Chase Fieler have made quite the first impressions as they introduced themselves to America this week. The soaring Eagles have swaggered and out-hustled their opponents, as Florida Gulf Coast’s players often do not pose after their thunderous dunks; instead, they sprint back down the court to play defense.
This thunderous “anvil” alley-oop dunk from Brett Comer to Eric McKnight perfectly symbolizes what this team is about. After the I-can’t-believe-I-just-saw-that dunk, McKnight, instead of mugging for the cameras like so many players do these days, sprinted down the court and promptly blocked a shot on the very next play against San Diego State on Sunday.
Florida Gulf Coast has plenty of toughness and grit too, as they have withstood the best punches Georgetown and San Diego State threw at them.
La Salle, from gritty Philadelphia, started the tournament in Dayton, Ohio on Wednesday against Boise State. After defeating the Broncos, the Explorers then traveled to Kansas City, Missouri to play No. 4 Kansas State in what was a virtual home game for Kansas State. Travel-weary La Salle won, and then they beat Mississippi on a last-second shot by Tyrone Garland. But gritty La Salle showed they also had plenty of flash and swagger as well after Garland’s shot. They soaked up the moment, and Garland even dubbed his shot the “Southwest Philly Floater.” Here is video of Garland’s game-winner.