News | March 16, 2021

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FGCU faces Michigan in 1st round of NCAA tourney

photo shows FGCU basketball player
Sophomore guard Aaliyah Stanley poured in a career-high 25 points to lead FGCU to the ASUN championship game for the 10th consecutive season. Photo: FGCU Athletics.

Get ready for March Madness as the 11th-seeded FGCU women’s basketball team takes on sixth-seeded Michigan at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 21 in the first round of the NCAA Division I Tournament. The game will be shown on ESPN2.

 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all games will occur in and around San Antonio, Texas, with teams grouped in regions named after Texas landmarks. The Eagles are in the River Walk Region, which also includes the top-seeded University of Connecticut.

 

It will be the second all-time meeting between FGCU and Michigan and the first since the Green and Blue knocked off the Wolverines 71-62 in a thrilling WNIT semifinal at Alico Arena in March 2016.

 

“It’s two totally different teams at this point,” FGCU head coach Karl Smesko said about the previous matchup. “I saw them play one time earlier this year, and they were very impressive. I got a lot of film to watch and a lot of studying to really know exactly how they play. We know that they’ve had a great season. We’ll just try to be as prepared as we can.”

 

The matchup will feature a head-to-head battle between two of the nation’s top scorers as Michigan’s Naz Hillmon enters at 25.1 points per game, while FGCU sophomore forward Kierstan Bell is averaging 24.3.

 

Bell played against Michigan twice last year during her time with Ohio State.

 

“I’m excited to play against them again,” Bell said. “It’s going to be a great matchup. I’m glad we’re playing them. Being from Ohio, we never liked Michigan. I’m very excited.”

 

The winning team will get a day off to prepare for a second-round matchup against the winner of No. 3 Tennessee and No. 14 Middle Tennessee.

 

The regional rounds are set for March 27-30, with the national semifinals on April 2 and the national championship game April 4.

 

“I’m excited,” Smesko said. “We’re in the tournament. We get to play a really good team. That’s part of the excitement about being in the NCAA Tournament — you get an opportunity to compete against the very best teams, and I think our team was excited about the draw.”

 

This will be FGCU’s seventh appearance in the NCAA tournament after last year’s was canceled. The Eagles punched their ticket after clinching the program’s eighth ASUN tournament championship March 14.

 

For complete coverage of the women’s basketball program, follow the Eagles on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and online.

NCAA Tournament Schedule

  • First Round: March 21-22
  • Second Round: March 23-24
  • Sweet 16: March 27-28
  • Elite Eight: March 29-30
  • Final Four: April 2
  • Championship: April 4