Aztecs Prepare for Unknown Opponent

Florida Gulf Coast is new to the dance

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Florida Gulf Coast's Sherwood Brown, left, and Brett Comer celebrate after Brown's basket during the second half of a second-round game against Georgetown in the NCAA college basketball tournament, Friday, March 22, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

    San Diego State knew what it was getting in the first round of the NCAA Tournament (well, technically it's the second round because the NCAA refuses to call the "play-in games" play-in games, instead choosing to label them the first round, which is ridiculous and confusing).

    Oklahoma is on national TV a couple times a month, so the Aztecs had plenty of tape to break down in the 5 days leading up to the game.

    It's going to be a different story in the third (second) round of the tournament. Florida Gulf Coast has only been a Division-1 program for two years. They've only been a university for 16 years. So, what could the Aztecs possibly know about the Eagles?

    "We know they beat Georgetown, and that's enough to know," said forward J.J. O'Brien. "Just from watching they look like they play free and loose. Those teams are dangerous."

    J.J. is absolutely right. The Eagles like to run more than Forrest Gump. They took down Georgetown by being relentless in transition, getting out on 4-on-3 and 4-on-2 breaks, finishing with tip-in or alley-oop dunks. After one particularly impressive 21-2 run, the Hoyas simply didn't know what hit them.

    However, San Diego State is surprisingly more prepared. Head coach Steve Fisher has a condo in Fort Myers Beach, FL. He's toured the Florida Gulf Coast campus. He's seen them play. And he feels like the upstart Eagles are not a flash-in-the-pan. These kids are legit.

    "This doesn't just happen," said Fisher. "This is not just a pick-up game on the street. This is a well-coached, well-defined style of play that they're good at."

    Plus, as an unknown 15-seed, FGCU will have the Philadelphia crowd fully supporting the underdog, making it almost like a home game for them. In case you're wondering, the Eagles went 15-1 at home, including a win over ACC champion Miami (FL).

    Oh, and they're now 4-0 in games played at neutral sites. This team could be the best 15-seed in the history of organized basketball.

    But, they're still fighting history. The previous six teams that were seeded 15th and won their opening game failed to reach the Sweet 16.

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