NCAA Tournament Predictions: Florida State vs. Florida Gulf Coast

Florida State's Jonathan Isaac (1) shoots over Pittsburgh's Michael Young (2) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

It’s March Madness, the greatest time of the year. Looking for some help with your bracket? Don’t know which teams to believe in, in this crazy college hoops season? We’ve got your back. We’re breaking down every first-round game in the field of 68, plus looking ahead at which teams will make the run to the Final Four.

3. Florida State (25-8, 12-6/ACC)–Forgotten amongst all of the hype surrounding Duke, North Carolina, Louisville and Virginia, Leonard Hamilton has quietly built a legitimate contender at Florida State, which is one of the longest and most athletic teams in the nation.

The ‘Noles boast two potential first-round draft picks, in lights-out shooter Dwayne Bacon (16.9 ppg, 4 rpg) and nimble big man Jonathan Isaac (11.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg). The 6-10 Isaac, a freshman from Naples, is being projected as a top-five pick in the upcoming draft by NBADraft.net.

Florida State has an underwhelming NCAA Tournament history, as they haven’t appeared in the Dance since 2012, and have advanced past the second round just twice since 1972. Still, we think this group is talented enough that none of that matters. They play excellent defense, and have enough scoring options to make a deep run.

14. Florida Gulf Coast (26-7, 12-2/Atlantic Sun)–Dunks and defense.

That’s what Florida Gulf Coast (26-7, 12-2/Atlantic Sun) has specialized in this season, en route to another conference title and talk that they might be able to make some more noise in the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles will enter the Dance winners of 18 of 20, with 13 of those triumphs coming by double digits.

Even without the legendary Andy Enfield, FGCU’s legacy of unforeseen freakish athleticism has continued. Coach Joe Dooley has led the Eagles back to the tournament twice now, and this group can rock the rim almost as well as the original 15th-seeded squad.

Just check out this outlandish throwdown by Rayjon Tucker in the A-Sun title game against North Florida:

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Beyond the dunks, this FGCU team can really guard as well. They’re athletic (of course), quick and harassing on the wing.

The Eagles are led by 6-2 junior guard Brandon Goodwin, who averages 18.2 points, 4.6 boards and 4 assists per game. 6-2 Miami product Zach Johnson also puts up 11.8 points per, and 6-9 Miami big Demetris Morant averages 10 points and 8 boards per.

PREDICTION: Florida State is too big, too athletic, and has too many first-round NBA Draft picks for Florida Gulf Coast to compete. The ‘Noles win this in-state showdown easily, then beat Xavier before being dispatched by Arizona in the Sweet 16.

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