Florida Gulf Coast punches first NCAA bid
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Florida Gulf Coast, welcome to the NCAA tournament.
The Eagles punched the first ticket to the field of 68 with their 88-75 upset of Mercer in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament championship game on Saturday.
The question most college hoops fans are likely asking themselves: What school is the first team to make the Big Dance?
Florida Gulf Coast, based in Fort Myers, Fla., held its first classes in 1997 and didn’t sponsor a basketball team until 2002-03. Fast forward a decade and the school has notched its first NCAA tournament berth.
The second-seeded Eagles (24-10) became the first team in the 68-team field by snapping top-seeded Mercer’s 17-game home winning streak, tied for the sixth-longest in the nation. Brett Comer paced Florida Gulf Coast with 21 points. Sherwood Brown added 16 points and 11 rebounds as the Eagles pulled away after a back-and-forth first half.
What significance does this game hold in the big scheme of things? Little. Neither Mercer nor Florida Gulf Coast were going to be winning a national title. But the school’s one shining moment in March came today.