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Sunday, March 24, 2013
Updated: March 26, 1:33 PM ET
Florida Gulf Coast keeps surprising

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

Florida Gulf Coast is the story of the 2013 NCAA tournament.

The Eagles are the first No. 15 seed to make the Sweet 16. We have seen No. 15 seeds win one game and fall short of winning a second. FGCU followed up the upset of Georgetown with an impressive showing against a quality San Diego State team.

Come on, how many people had the Eagles winning two games in the bracket? It has been that kind of season.

FGCU has played very loosely, not feeling any pressure. The key to me has been confidence. They have played with passion and emotion.

Names such as Sherwood Brown, Bernard Thompson, Brett Comer, Chase Fieler, Eric McKnight and Eddie Murray (not the Hall of Fame baseball player) have earned their time in the national spotlight.

One aspect that makes this Cinderella story so amazing is the 10 regular-season losses. The Atlantic Sun tournament champion (FGCU beat favorite Mercer in the final), upset Miami during the campaign. There were also losses to some pretty good teams, such as Duke, VCU, Iowa State and St. John's. How do you explain losing to Lipscomb (twice), Stetson, East Tennessee State and Maine? Wow.

Talk about getting things together at the right time.

The Eagles now have a seven-game win streak going into a Sweet 16 showdown with Sunshine State rival Florida. That will be at Cowboys Stadium, a huge facility. Realize that this team played before an average crowd of 2,290 for their home games this season.

As I said, it has been a wacky season. Gonzaga, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Saint Louis, they are all home watching the Sweet 16 on television.

Florida Gulf Coast is Cinderella once again.