Florida -12 1/2 and FGCU +12 1/2

It is certainly no surprise to see 3 seed Florida in the round of 16. Coach Billy Donovan has proven himself to be amongst the elite and they have on one of the most balanced teams in the country. It is certainly surprising to see 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast University in the sweet 16. It was not a surprise to see a 15 seed defeat a 2 seed in the 2nd round because it has happened several times in recent history. It wasn’t until the Eagles of FGCU defeated San Diego State to become the first 15 seed ever to advance to the round of 16 that they made history and shocked the nation. They are officially this years “Cinderella” and they seem to have the support of everyone who doesn’t have a favorite team left playing.

Florida has yet to be truly be tested in the tournament. They demolished Northwestern State in the 2nd round which led them to a 2nd round matchup with coach Tubby Smith and Minnesota in the 3rd round. Florida continued to roll as they crushed Minnesota’s hopes from the beginning and cruised to a 78-64 victory. Star guard Mike Rosario led the way for the Gators with 25 points including 6 three pointers. Erik Murphy had 15 points and 4 rebounds and Scottie Wilbekin had 12 points to go along with 6 assists. Florida is a superior defensive team and they have exhibited that so far in the dance.

FGCU shocked the country with its dominating performance over heavily favored Georgetown in the 2nd round. They played with a swagger and confidence are not supposed to have, especially considering that they were playing one of the best defensive teams in the nation. Next up was Coach Steve Fisher and San Diego State who showed how a good a team they were all season long. FGCU used an explosive 47 point second half to outscore the Aztec’s and make history by becoming the highest seed ever to advance. They were led by the spectacular all-around performance of Bernard Thompson who had 23 points, 5 steals, and 4 rebounds. Guard Sherwood Brown had 17 points and 8 rebounds. Three other players reached double figures in the 81-71 victory. They went on a 17-0 run late in the second half that sealed the victory and set off a huge celebration.

Considering how hard and confident FGCU plays it is almost difficult to look at them as an underdog. They lack the depth that Florida has so foul trouble must be avoided at all costs. Florida maintains a size advantage as well as experience with senior guards Rosario and Kenny Boynton having the ball in their hands most of the time. It will be up to them to handle the defensive pressure that FGCU will provide. Momentum is an incredible and unpredictable thing and we will see which part of the state of Florida still has it this weekend.

FGCU has proven that they are capable of defending bigger opponents as well as create scoring opportunities for themselves. This game should be much closer than the spread indicates.

Ray's Free Pick: Take Florida Gulf Coast University +12 ½

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