(2) Georgetown vs. (15) Florida Gulf Coast
(2) Georgetown Hoyas
To say that the Hoyas (25-6, 14-4) have been tough to watch at times this season would be an understatement. They rely heavily on their defense, allowing just 56 points a night. They held their opponents to 50 points or less on 10 different occasions during the regular season, but they struggle to score points themselves at times. Sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. is the country’s best small forward and someone who does it all for the Hoyas. They played the 17th toughest schedule in the country and were an impressive 8-3 against the RPI top 50, with wins against Louisville, Marquette, Syracuse and UCLA. The only bad loss on their resume is a Jan. 19 slip up against South Florida. The Hoyas are inconsistent at the free throw line, a weakness that really becomes magnified with the kind of offensive struggles they have already. Their defense will make life tough on any team in the nation, but when it comes down to it, the Hoyas are going to have to score late to win games. Between Porter, Markel Starks and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, someone has to rise to the occasion when needed. The Hoyas have made due without the academically ineligible Greg Whittington, who averaged 12 points, seven rebounds and two assists in the fall, but will really miss him in the tournament.
(15) Florida Gulf Coast Eagles
Over the course of the last year, the Eagles (24-10, 13-5) had to deal with the disappointment and heartache that came with just missing out on the 2012 NCAA Tournament. It was the first year they were eligible after serving the four-year probationary period that comes with transitioning from D-II to D-I. Now, thanks to winning their last five games including three in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, the Eagles are dancing for the first time in school history. With only two seniors on their roster, the Eagles could become NCAA Tournament regulars now that this group has blazed the trail. Tempo has been s key to the Eagles’ success. They are at their best when they’re pushing it up the floor. They scored 73 points a game on average and eclipsed the 80-point plateau on nine different occasions. Sherwood Brown, Bernard Thompson and Chase Fieler combine to average 41 points and anchor their potent offense. In order to pull off an upset and beat a higher seed, the Eagles are going to have to take care of the basketball – something they really struggled with during the regular season – stay out of foul trouble and gang rebound. The Eagles went 1-1 against the RPI top 25, but the win came against a beat-up Miami team early in the year. Their next best win was against Loyola-Maryland. Otherwise, their other 22 victories came against teams that were either non D-I or outside of the RPI top 100.
HOOPSWORLD’s Pick: Georgetown. The Hoyas’ defense is going to overwhelm the Eagles.