The NCAA’s Sweet 16 featuring: The Dunking Eagles, The Shockers and the Southwest Philly Floater

(College Basketball AP)

The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles have soared from obscurity right into The Sweet Sixteen.

The first weekend of the 2013 NCAA Tournament has given us the usual thrills — while a No. 1 seed took a major spill. The second seeded Georgetown Hoyas were upset by the 15th seeded Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 78-68. The Eagles punched their ticket into the Sweet 16 after defeating seventh seeded San Diego St. 81-71. The Wichita State Shockers did exactly that to No. 1 seeded Gonzaga in a 76-70 victory. The Shockers resemble more of an evil stepsister than a Cinderella.

The LaSalle Explorers have taken the long, hard road to the Sweet 16. Philly’s lone remaining team in the dance defeated Boise State 80-71 in the play-in game. The Explorers went on to defeat fourth-seeded Kansas State 63-61 and twelfth-seeded Ole Miss 76-74.

The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles may have just grabbed the attention of some college hoops fans, but their road to respectability began in November with their 63-51 victory over Miami. The team known as ‘Dunk City’ has won 17 of their last 21 games, dating back to January 5th. The Eagles are the only fifteenth seeded team to reach the round of sixteen. Not bad for a team in their second season of tournament eligibility.

The Wichita State Shockers used their physical style of ball to handle the Pittsburgh Panthers rather easily in the first round 73-55. Against top-seeded Gonzaga, the Shockers went blow for blow with the Bulldogs. Freshman sniper Ron Baker was key for Wichita State in the game’s final moments. The tables were turned on Gonzaga — a team considered to be a giant killer in the NCAA’s for years.

For two decades, the LaSalle Explorers have sat and watched while their Big Five brethren have enjoyed in-season and post-season success. The great Lionel Simmons was not walking through any doors, so the program had no choice but to build itself back up. LaSalle made waves with victories over Butler and VCU in the span of 3 days. Blessed with a homegrown class, the Explorers run a four guard offense led by senior Ramon Galloway and junior spark plug Tyrone Garland. Garland paid homage to his Philly roots by dubbing his game-winning shot against Ole Miss “The Southwest Philly Floater”.

Unfortunately, the season will end for either LaSalle or Wichita State when they meet on Thursday.

 

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