Coming off a dominant 96-65 First Four victory to commence the NCAA Tournament on March 16, the 16th-seeded FGCU men’s basketball team (21-13) faces a quick turnaround when the Eagles battle No. 1 seed North Carolina (28-6) March 17 at 7:20 p.m. at PNC Arena.
The game will be broadcast nationally on TBS with Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner and Lewis Johnson on the call — the same crew that broadcasted the Eagles’ upsets of 2nd-seeded Georgetown and 7th-seeded San Diego three years ago in Philadelphia. The winner will face the victor of 8th-seeded USC (21-12) and 9th-seeded Providence (23-10) on March 19. All-time, No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament are 124-0 against No. 16 seeds.
FGCU had to win a First Four contest in Dayton, Ohio, to advance to the First Round, and the Eagles did that in dominant fashion over fellow 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson. FGCU’s 31-point win was the largest victory in the history of the First Four/Opening Round; 96 points are the most in a regulation game versus a D-I opponent this year.
UNC, meanwhile, has not played since winning the ACC Tournament Championship on March 12 and will be playing about 20 miles from its campus in Chapel Hill.
In 19 of their last 21 games, the Eagles have out-scored their opponent in the paint, and have reached 80 points 16 times this year (12 the previous two years combined). Marc-Eddy Norelia (587) set the program’s single-season scoring record on Tuesday, while Zach Johnson (378) established the program’s freshman scoring record. Norelia became the first player to record 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the NCAA Tournament since 2014 with his 20-10-5 effort in the First Four.
While the quantity of wins is nowhere near the top teams in the history of college basketball, FGCU still boasts a .750 win percentage all-time in NCAA Tournament games with its 3-1 mark. That win percentage is the 2nd-best in the history of the NCAA Tournament, behind only Duke’s .755 percentage.
Additionally, it took FGCU just four NCAA Tournament games to record three wins. In a select grouping of 88 current D-I teams who have made NCAA Tournament appearances, those teams have played a total of 265 games in the Big Dance and only have recorded three combined victories.
OPENING TIP ITEMS
- Sweet 16: FGCU is a 16 seed, in its 16th year of athletics and last time it was in the NCAA Tournament reached the Sweet 16 in its 16th academic year.
- Last time here (before Tuesday): The Eagles captured the nation’s attention in 2013 when they became the only 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history to reach the Sweet 16, dunking over 2nd-seeded Georgetown, 78-68, and 7th-seeded San Diego State, 81-71, earning their famed Dunk City nickname.
- History makers: FGCU has only been Division I postseason eligible since 2011-12, and this will be the Eagles’ fourth postseason appearance. In addition to the two NCAA Tournament appearances, FGCU also played in the NIT in 2014 and the CIT in 2015. FGCU is believed to be the only D-I team in NCAA history to ever make four postseason appearances in its first five years of eligibility.
- Building a winning tradition: Entering the NCAA Tournament, FGCU is one of only 38 teams in the nation that has won at least 20 games in each of the past four seasons. Furthermore, when combined with the women’s team winning 28 games, FGCU is one of just eight schools in the country to have their men’s and women’s basketball teams win at least 20 games in four-straight seasons: Duke, Louisville, Kentucky, BYU, Baylor, UConn and Saint Mary’s.
- Watch parties