Just 24 hours after Harvard shocked the country and ruined many tourney brackets with their unexpected dismissal of number 3 seed New Mexico, an even more improbable Cinderella decided that it was too early to leave the dance. Those who managed to survive the New Mexico upset most likely tore their brackets up when storied basketball power, second seed Georgetown was sent packing by 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast University.
If you said “Who?” you would not be alone. What makes this upset staggering is not that a 15 seed beat a 2 seed. That has been done six times previously in tournament history. It’s not that FGCU won it’s first ever NCAA tourney game. That’s been done too. It’s that this school which was established on donated land in FortMeyers put its first team on the court six short years ago and only became eligible for the NCAA tournament last year. In fact, they admitted their first student just 16 years ago. Harvard also won their school’s first NCAA tourney game. As the nation’s oldest university, one might say they have had 377 years to prepare for its moment having been founded in 1636. The FGCU win was no doubt overwhelming for a school around only since the mid-90s. On the Georgetown side this was unfortunately nothing new. The Hoyas have been sent home after a first round loss in their last four tourney appearances. And all four losses have come at the hands of double-digit seeded underdogs.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. We played a very tough team in Georgetown. They have great players. They’re a historic school,” said FGCU forward Chase Fieler. “So being a newer school it’s very exciting for us to be able to win a game like that and for the NCAA history. That’s exciting and impressive to be a part of that.”
The FGCU Eagles, whose young millionaire coach Andy Enfield is married to supermodel Amanda Marcum, were led by 24 points from Sherwood brown. Bernard Thompson added 23 for the Atlantic Sun Conference champs. The Eagles blasted the stunned Hoyas with a 21-2 run in the second half and held on to shock the nation and win the game 78-68. The tourney crowd at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, which seemed primed for an upset, got behind the Eagles early. The revved up fans were really ignited when FGCU point guard Brett Comer lofted an alley-oop from the corner of the court to a running Fieler who slammed the ball through the hoop one handed with NBA-like swagger. Comer said after the game: “We decided we can play with anybody and we did.” Coach Enfield, who as a player set the NCAA career free-throw percentage record, said in the post-game press conference that he prepared his players by saying that this may be Georgetown, they may be the second seed, “but after you get out on the court for two or three minutes, you’re going to realize that you’re just as good if not better than this team.”
It was another short and disappointing experience for the Georgetown Hoyas. They finish the season 25-7 and were led tonight by Markel Stark’s 23pts. This team which was a tri-champion of the Big East regular season was just stunned by this young team from Florida and at being the victim of another big upset. “I wish I could, trust me, more than anyone on this Earth,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said when asked to explain the upset losses. “I’ve tried to analyze it, think about it, look at it, think about what we should do differently and I don’t know.”
FloridaGulfCoast will move on to face no. 8 seed San Diego State University (23-10) in the round of 32 on Sunday. SDSU advanced to the second round by way of a 70-55 victory over Oklahoma.