NCAA March Madness Preview – Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

Atlantic Sun (26-7, 12-2)

by Joel Welser

For the second straight season, Florida Gulf Coast will look to recapture their 2013 NCAA Tournament magic. Back in 2013, Dunk City swept the nation as the Eagles knocked off Georgetown and South Dakota State en route to a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Last year FGCU won a game too, but that was against Fairleigh Dickinson in the First Four. That earned them the right to play North Carolina, where they lost 83-67.

Big Wins: 11/16 Texas-Arlington (85-72), 12/4 at Georgia Southern (85-82), 12/20 at Louisiana Tech (79-78)

Bad Losses: 12/17 at La Salle (59-72), 1/19 USC Upstate (60-62), 2/9 Lipscomb (60-65)

Coach: Joe Dooley

Why They Can Surprise:

Florida Gulf Coast is one of the most efficient shooting teams in the country. The team as a whole shoots 50.2 percent from the floor, which is the fifth best in the country. Much of that has to do with the interior duo of Demetris Morant and Marc-Eddy Norelia. Morant has had a huge senior season, averaging 10.7 points and 8.0 rebounds. Last year it was Norelia leading the scoring charge, but he has seen his scoring dip to 8.9 points per game this season. Part of his lack of production was due to an injured hand that forced him to miss a few games early in the season and part of it was due to a mysterious brief departure from the team. But Norelia seems to be back now and has been much more productive down the stretch.

Leading scorer Brandon Goodwin also boosts the team’s field-goal percentage. He will take a lot of three-pointers, but still shoots 51.6 percent from the floor. Goodwin, who averages 18.2 points and 4.0 assists per game, has done a great job getting to the basket and finishing.

Why They Can Disappoint:

Overall this is a very dangerous Florida Gulf Coast team. They are strong on the glass and have the interior size and strength that most mid-majors lack. They also have five very good scorers with Zach Johnson and Christian Terrell also capable of putting up points in a hurry. The Eagles played Florida, Baylor and Michigan State in the non-conference portion of the schedule, but lost all of those games. Against the Gators, on a neutral court, FGCU lost 80-59. They fared better on the road against Baylor, losing by nine, and Michigan State, losing by one, but this has not been a team that has proven they can beat the best of the best. However, they have proven that they can stick around with those teams. And with Norelia back in full swing, Florida Gulf Coast has a decent chance of recapturing a bit of that 2013 magic.

Probable Starters:

Brandon Goodwin, Junior, Guard, 18.2 ppg, 4.0 apg, 4.6 rpg

Zach Johnson, Sophomore, Guard, 11.8 ppg, 3.0 apg

Christian Terrell, Junior, Guard, 10.3 ppg, 2.4 apg

Demetris Morant, Senior, Forward, 10.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg

Marc-Eddy Norelia, Senior, Forward, 8.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg

Key Role Players:

Kevin Mickle, Junior, Forward, 1.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg

Reggie Reid, Sophomore, Guard, 3.0 ppg, 2.0 apg

Rayjon Tucker, Sophomore, Guard, 7.7 ppg, 1.0 apg

Antravious Simmons, Junior, Forward, 5.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 79.4 (45th in nation, 2nd in conference)

Scoring Defense: 68.8 (85, 1)

Field-Goal Percentage: 50.2 (5, 1)

Field-Goal Defense: 42.1 (86, 1)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (260, 7)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.0 (176, 6)

Free-Throw Percentage: 70.2 (168, 4)

Rebound Margin: 6.2 (25, 1)

Assists Per Game: 15.4 (61, 4)

Turnovers Per Game: 12.4 (112, 2)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016    NCAA Opening Round win over Fairleigh Dickinson

2016    NCAA Round of 64 loss to North Carolina

2015    CIT      First Round loss to Texas A&M Corpus Christi

2014    NIT     First Round loss to Florida State

2013    NCAA Round of 64 win over Georgetown

2013    NCAA Round of 32 win over South Dakota State

2013    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Florida

*all team stats through 3/5

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