What is the biggest surprise of the opening weekend of the men's NCAA tournament?
By Melissa Isaacson
There is only one team in the Sweet 16 with four letters on their chests most sports fans would have been hard-pressed to identify as a university a week ago, much less pencil in anywhere on their NCAA tournament brackets.
Florida Gulf Coast University has to be the surprise of all surprises, not just because the Eagles are the first No. 15 seed to make the Sweet 16, or because they upset No. 2 seed Georgetown and No. 7 seed San Diego State but because neither victory came on half-court buzzer-beaters but rather on high-flying, slam-dunking, run-and-gun displays that ran both opponents out of the gym.
If not for coach Andy Enfield, whose wife is a supermodel and in his former life was once a Rick Pitino assistant with the Celtics as well as a venture capitalist, his team really would be anonymous in just its second year in Division I, as would a school that held its first classes in 1997.
Surprise? Um, yep. And the most enjoyable one as well.
By Kate Fagan
La Salle guard Ramon Galloway told reporters, "We're no Cinderella," after the Explorers advanced to the Sweet 16 Sunday night. Of course, I'm not buying that. Yes they are a Cinderella! The only mistake La Salle made this weekend was one of timing: Advancing in the NCAA tournament the same year as Florida Gulf Coast, a No. 15 seed. The FGCU story is also an awesome one, but since I have a special place in my heart for Philadelphia (I lived there for three years), La Salle provided the most welcome surprise of the opening weekend.
Let's not forget the Explorers won three games last week, defeating Boise State on Wednesday in the First Four. (Not too many people outside of Philly thought La Salle would even get an at-large bid.) Then the Explorers defeated fourth-seeded Kansas State and on Sunday night toppled No. 12 Ole Miss. Next up for La Salle, a school with about 4,800 undergraduates, No. 9 Wichita State, which took down top-seeded Gonzaga.
In the final seconds of Sunday night's win, La Salle was running the clock down, holding for the final shot. The ball ended up in the hands of Tyrone Garland, who attacked from left to right, swooping into the lane for a difficult layup just a couple of seconds before the buzzer.
Oh, and the shot already has a nickname, coined by Garland himself: the "Southwest Philly floater."
T-shirts are already being printed.
By Sarah Spain
The boys from Florida Gulf Coast University battling their way into the Sweet 16 has to be the biggest surprise!
Harvard posted a fine upset in the opening round, but it wasn't the first time an Ivy has downed a top seed (you might remember my Cornell Big Red advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2010 after taking out Temple and Wisconsin).
The 13th-seeded La Salle Explorers have surprised many, slipping past Kansas State and Ole Miss by a combined four points. But nothing can match the Cinderella story of the FGCU Eagles. Forget the coach's model wife or the pictures of the dorms on the beach. The headlines belong to this group of players, who continue to defy expectations. The success of FGCU is a big reason there isn't a single perfect bracket left out there!
By Michelle Smith
No surprise that the biggest surprise is Florida Gulf Coast advancing to the Sweet 16. But the biggest shock is how much they look like they belong after another strong performance against San Diego State in the second round.
If FCGU is a team playing way above its head in the biggest tournament on the planet, it sure doesn't look that way. The Eagles are playing great, confident basketball, not at all like a team playing above its head and scrambling to survive. The next challenge for them -- facing Florida in the regional semifinals -- is huge, but FGCU looks like a team right now that is up for it.