(3) Florida vs. (15) Florida Gulf Coast
(3) Florida Gators
The Gators were able to establish 21 point halftime advantage, picking up where they left off in the Round of 64, to cruise pass the Minnesota Golden Gophers 78-64. Mike Rosario really broke the game open for them with his three point shooting, making 6-9 from distance en route to a game high 25 points. As a team the Gators shot 56 percent from the field, including 10-20 shooting from three. In the Sweet 16 the Gators will be the heavy favorites against the Eagles, but they cannot go into that game with the mentality that they’re far superior. If they do, they’ll suffer the same fate that the Hoyas and Aztecs did before them. The Eagles are a team that can score in bunches, but the Gators’ defense is capable of stifling just about every offense. They should also be able to have success against them offensively. So far in the tournament the Gators are averaging 78 points a game. If they can keep that up against the Eagles they should be able to move onto the Elite Eight.
(15) Florida Gulf Coast Eagles
We now know who Cinderella is as the Eagles became the first 15 seed to ever advance to the Sweet 16 with an 81-71 victory over the San Diego State Aztecs in the Round of 32. The Eagles were able to shock the world once again and earn their seventh straight victory behind another explosive offensive performance. The Aztecs could slow down their up tempo attack as five players scored in double figures, led by Bernard Thompson’s 23, with one player just missing that plateau with nine. The Eagles really played an efficient and unselfish brand of basketball offensively, dishing out 21 assists on 33 made field goals, which they made at a 55 percent clip. The Eagles will now battle the Florida Gators in the Sweet 16, a match up that will see two contrasting styles of play clash. For the Eagles to keep this magical ride going they just have to establish their tempo and not let the Gators’ relentless pressure force them into excessive turnovers. The Gators have been very solid in the tournament, but they are definitely a beatable opponent for the Eagles.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Florida. The Eagles have had a tremendous run, but it will come to an end against the Gators, who will be the first team to figure out how to slow them down offensively.