Life is good in ‘Dunk City,’ UF up next for FGCU

Published on Tuesday, 3/26/13, at 3:15 p.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

With 52 schools eliminated, the 2013 NCAA Tournament is down to the Sweet 16. This year’s guests include former supermodel Amanda Marcum, ‘Dunk City,’ the LaSalle Explorers, three schools from the Sunshine State and Wichita St. from out of the Missouri Valley Conference.

The cast of characters include Buzz Williams, the lovable Marquette head coach who plays a mean air guitar and has led his team to a pair of improbable comeback victories over Davidson and Butler.

You want Hall-of-Fame-bound coaches? We’ve got Rick Pitino, Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan, Mike Krzyzewski and Bill Self. If Ohio St. ends up cutting the nets down in Atlanta, then Thad Matta should’ve been included in the previous sentence.

Cinderella is still in this tournament, but she’s way hotter this time around. Andy Enfield has a trophy wife and bigger paychecks headed his way after leading Florida Gulf Coast to a pair of blowout wins over second-seeded Georgetown and seventh-seeded San Diego St. In doing so, the Eagles became the first No. 15 seed to advance to the region semifinals.

There was nothing fluky about the Eagles, who are 100/1 longshots to win the national title at most betting shops. FGCU beat Miami earlier this season, prompting many pundits to point to that defeat as the reason why the Hurricanes shouldn’t be a No. 1 seed. Now we can call that a quality loss for UM.

FGCU used a 21-2 second-half surge to take a 52-33 lead over Georgetown with 12:28 remaining Friday night. The Hoyas would rally to make it respectable, but the Eagles won by a 78-68 count as 13-point underdogs at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Bernard Thompson was the catalyst with 23 points and seven rebounds, while Brett Comer finished with 12 points, 10 assists and six boards.

Enfield’s bunch took out the Aztecs 81-71 as a 7.5-point ‘dog. Thompson scored 23 points (again) and Comer posted another double-double with 10 points and 14 dimes. Sherwood Brown added 17 points and eight boards, including a ridiculous dunk off a no-look alley-oop dish from Comer.

FGCU will take its high-flying act to Cowboys Stadium to challenge third-seeded Florida on Friday night in Arlington. The Gators, who advanced with easy wins and covers over Northwestern St. and Minnesota, were favored by 13 against the Eagles as of Monday afternoon.

The total was 133.5. The Eagles are +700 on the money line (risk $100 to win $700).

Donovan has UF in the Sweet 16 for the third straight season. The Gators were led by Mike Rosario’s game-high 25 points in Sunday’s 78-64 win over Minnesota as eight-point ‘chalk. Rosario splashed the nets with six 3-pointers on nine attempts as Florida raced to a 48-27 lead at halftime.

Florida has gone up against Cinderella stories in recent NCAA Tournaments with mixed results. In 2006, the Gators beat George Mason in the national semifinals before winning their first national title in school history.

UF has faced Butler in three different NCAA Tourneys since 1999 when it beat the Bulldogs on Mike Miller’s leaner at the buzzer in a first-round matchup. In the 2007 tournament, Florida had its toughest test on the way to repeating as national champs in a nail-biting win over Butler in the Sweet 16. Two years ago, Butler rallied from a double-digit second-half deficit to beat the Gators in overtime at the South Region finals in New Orleans.

Also in 1999, UF was eliminated in the West Region semifinals in Phoenix where Gonzaga advanced to the Elite Eight thanks to Casey Calvary’s tip-in winner in the final seconds.

Just last year, UF didn’t have to face Missouri in the second round because the second-seeded Tigers were stunned by No. 15 seed, Norfolk St.

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