Move over, Harvard, FGCU is here

Move over, Harvard, FGCU is here
March 25, 2013, 11:15 am
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Well, Harvard’s bid for the Sweet 16 blew up faster than you can say Ted Kaczynski.

That’s what happens when you miss your first 13 (and 20 of your first 22) shots against a team like Arizona.

Final Score: Arizona 74, Harvard 51.

But the tournament provided plenty of diversions from the brutal murder of New England’s Cinderella: There was Wichita State taking the down the Zags. There was Aaron Craft’s cold-blooded and emotionless game-winner. There was the shock and awe of the Marshall Henderson Show (now canceled and replaced by a more likable LaSalle squad). There were dominant performances by Louisville, and two Michigans. There was Jim Larranaga and one the greatest clips in Internet history.

But above all else . . . there was . . . The Coast.

Florida Gulf Coast University — one of the most unlikely, unique and exciting Cinderellas to hit the tournament in years. Of course, there’s a chance I say that every year, but this time really does feel different. I’m nearly positive that we’ve never seen a team quite like the FGCU Eagles.

For one, because before the tournament started, hardly anyone knew this school existed. In fact, they didn’t exist at all until 1991. They didn’t start offering classes until 1997. In terms of academics, this Cinderella isn’t even legal. She’s only 16 years old.

She’s also an underdog that has yet to resemble anything close to an underdog. From the moment FGCU took the floor against Georgetown, right up until Sunday night’s postgame celebration, the Eagles have carried themselves like a perennial powerhouse. They don’t show up looking to tread water for 38 minutes and pull a few fast ones down the stretch. They want to run you off the court. Just ask the Hoyas and San Diego State.

In the process, FGCU has compiled a highlight reel that’s more impressive than the tourney’s other 67 teams combined. They are Dunk City. A great name that’s complemented by some great characters, like point guard Brett Comer (a childhood friend of Austin Rivers), senior Sherwood Brown (who’s almost perfected the Manny Ramirez role with his smile, dreads, carefree attitude and knack for doing stupid things that still somehow work out in his favor) and Chase Fieler (a modern day Andrew DeClercq, although ADeC never did this.

Truth be told, when you catch Gulf Coast Fever, it’s hard to focus your mind on anything else — although that’s due in some part to the fever’s accompanying blindness and dysentery.

The next stop on the Dunk City Tour is Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, and a fairy tale matchup against the University of Florida. How perfect is that? University of Florida vs. Florida Gulf Coast University. That’s like UMass facing off against UMass-Scituate. And while it might have been cool for this game to be played somewhere in the state of Florida, I think Cowboy Stadium is a fantastic alternative.

Andy Enfield and his boys are going to walk into that monstrosity like Norman Dale and his Hoosiers (only if Jimmy Chitwood had dreads, Ollie’s entire body was covered in ink and the role of Barbara Hershey was played by Kim Basinger).
 
But will they walk out winners?

The possibility still seems so unlikely, but then again that’s just par for the course when it comes to The Coast. Either way, there’s no question who everyone outside out of Gainesville will be rooting for, and no doubt that the Eagles will probably want to avoid missing their first 13 (and 20 of their first 22) shots.

It doesn’t take an Ivy League education to figure out how where that’s headed.