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The true Eagles of Philadelphia: FGCU takes on No. 2-seed Georgetown in City of Brotherly Love

FGCU men’s basketball team celebrates after hearing where they will play in the NCAA tournament. (Photo by Linwood Ferguson)

14 minutes.

That’s how long FGCU players and coaches had to wait on Sunday to hear their name being called by CBS studio analyst Greg Gumbel.

The Midwest bracket was announced first.  Top-seeded Louisville leads that region.  No.2 seed Duke popped up and players and fans got antsy as photographer’s moved into position.

Albany was called as the No. 15 seed and everyone exhaled.

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“It was almost a little bit stressful,” junior Chase Fieler said.

Next up was the South bracket.  This is where most of the college basketball experts had FGCU landing.

No. 2 seed Georgetown was announced and it was like déjà vu.  The players started to lift out of their seats in anticipation; students and fans could tell this was it.

“And who will Georgetown face in Philadelphia?” Gumbel said on national TV.

Then everyone saw and heard what they were waiting for. Florida GC showed up and everybody went crazy.  During the celebration CBS cut to a live-feed of FGCU for about eight seconds as analysts Seth Davis called FGCU “a dangerous 15-seed.”

“It was definitely a moment,” senior Sherwood Brown said.  “This is something special. We all dream of this moment in our lives.”

The Eagles will face the Georgetown Hoyas who went 25-6 with a 14-4 record in the Big East.

“Georgetown is a great basketball team,” FGCU head coach Andy Enfield said.  “They have great tradition and have been one of the best basketball teams of the last 20-30 years.  Big East basketball is as good as it gets so we know we have our hands full and we look forward to the opportunity.”

The Hoyas are lead by junior Otto Porter Jr. who was named the only unanimous Big East first-team selection.  Porter, who according to some experts is the best player in the country, averages 16 points, seven rebounds and two assists per game.

“He’s so versatile,” Fieler said.  “He can do everything.  He shoots, he hits the rim, and he’s very physical.  He’s got a little bit of everything.”

Fieler will most likely be the player who gets to guard Porter.

“I feel like Chase is a good matchup for him,” senior forward Eddie Murray said.  “He’s quick, can shoot it inside and outside. It’s going to be tough, but I think we have a fairly OK matchup, and we’re going to go up there and play our style of basketball and see what happens.”

The styles of play between FGCU and the Hoyas are like night and day.  FGCU likes to push the ball and play an up-tempo style that scores a lot (their 73.1 points per game is good for 49th in the country). On the flip side, Georgetown likes to slow teams down and play defense.  The Hoyas are ranked 246th in offense, yet their defense is ranked ninth.

“I like to think our style is much different than theirs,” Enfield said.  “We like to push the ball down the floor and they’re more controlled.  They run a version of the Princeton offense, they’re physical and big and they’re very good.  It’s a difference of style.”

FGCU could have made an argument for a 14-seed based onof their last 15 games (going 12-3 with two wins over Mercer who was first in the A-Sun). But according to the official NCAA seeding list, FGCU was 59th in the official NCAA seeding which put them as the highest 15-seed.

“I’m very happy with what seed we got,” Enfield said.

As soon as the brackets were released experts dove into them.  During the selection show CBS analyst Clark Kellogg named FGCU his “team to watch.”

Jason King of ESPN says, “Don’t sleep on Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles’ 24-10 record includes a victory over No. 2 seed Miami back on Nov. 13. Georgetown could be in trouble if the Hoyas don’t come to play. Last year we had two No. 15 seeds (Norfolk State and Lehigh) beat two No. 2 seeds (Missouri and Duke). FGCU hopes to follow that trend. Coach Andy Enfield has done a phenomenal job with this program.”

Myron Medcalf, also of ESPN, says FGCU will push Georgetown to the brink of an upset.

Despite some analysts saying FGCU actually has a shot, Enfield is happier about the fact that they are playing in Philly.

“Well Philadelphia is more of a neutral-site,” Enfield said.  “Georgetown is in Washington, D.C. and it’s better than playing Kansas in Kansas City or Ohio State in Dayton.  When you have virtual home games in the first round it’s extremely difficult.  I went through that at Florida State when we played Notre Dame in the United Center in Chicago for a chance to go to the Sweet Sixteen. They had 20,000 fans and we had maybe 1,000.”

Enfield especially likes Philly because he grew up just 146 miles away in Shippensburg, PA.

“I always enjoy going to Philly,” Enfield said.  “I grew up a Philadelphia 76ers fan so to go there and play is special.”

Statistically speaking FGCU has a small chance of pulling off an upset, but the repercussions of the tournament will do wonders for FGCU.  The A-Sun championship has already boosted FGCU into the national spotlight and the NCAA tournament will be phenomenal.

“It’s been a magical week,” Brown said. “It all started Monday when I walked into class early in the morning, and the teacher stopped class and all the students stood up and gave me a standing ovation.”

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