The Eagles Might Fly To The Elite Eight

Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Sports
Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Sports

In last weekend’s piece about the high-flying Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, I noted how they’re neither a fluke nor your stereotypical “Cinderella story”–they’re for real, and they’re a real threat to every team in the tournament. Andy Enfield is speaking with quiet confidence, and the Eagles’ failure to make the news for anything related to partying or tweeting is also, to me, a good sign.

You know what else is a good sign? The fact that the Florida Gators haven’t won a truly close game all year. In fact, of the last 9 games decided by ten points or less, they’ve won one. By exactly ten points. They’ve given up second-half leads, and have generally seemed unreliable down the stretch against tough opponents.

And the Eagles are most certainly a tough opponent.

The Eagles defend, they battle on the board, and they attack. They play without fear, almost to a fault, which means they won’t likely be overwhelmed by the enormity of the game. They can put up points in bunches, which means they won’t panic and be out of the game if Florida goes on a run, and they score quickly in transition, which means that if Florida doesn’t box out on its missed jump shots, they’ll be spun around and chasing while Brett Comer leads his boys in a downhill charge toward the other basket.

Florida Gulf Coast is more versatile and balanced, and they’re just as athletic. Florida’s best chance is if their shots are falling; of course, there’s always a good chance of that, as the Gators shoot the ball very, very well. But if their shorts aren’t falling–or if the game stays close down the stretch–the Eagles’ flight might continue into this weekend.

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