FGCU Beware! History Is Not Very Kind To Sweet 16 Upstarts
As Florida Gulf Coast is the first 15-seed to make it to the Sweet 16, there aren’t a ton of direct comparables to project what the Eagles are in for Friday night against 3-seed Florida. There only have been two 14-seeds to make it this far, and those teams — Cleveland State and Tennessee-Chattanooga — played a 7- and a 10-seed, respectively in this round.
Any other matchup between teams at least 10 seed lines apart in the Sweet 16 came in matchups between 1-seeds and 12s or 13s. Given Florida’s 28 wins, all by double digits, this season, these comparisons may not be that far off. And if that’s the case, that’s not good news for FGCU. Very few of the matchups were even close, and none of the mega-underdogs pulled the shocker and moved on.
2012: No. 1 North Carolina 73, No. 13 Ohio 65 (OT)
Easily the closest miss of the bunch happened last season, when John Groce’s Bobcats drew the Tar Heels without point guard Kendall Marshall. They had a chance to take the lead in the final 30 seconds of regulation, but missed a free throw after a game-tying basket. The Heels held them to just two points in the overtime session.
2011: No. 1 Kansas 77, No. 12 Richmond 57
The Jayhawks rolled in the first game of the so-called Kansas Invitational, with the Southwest regional also containing No. 10 seed Florida State and No. 11 seed VCU. Two days later, things were a lot different for the Jayhawks, but on this night, the game was never in doubt.
2010: No. 1 Kentucky 62, No. 12 Cornell 45
The Ivy League upstarts actually led 12-2 in the early going before the Wildcats’ defense totally locked them down. Cornell got back within six points with about six minutes remaining, but the No. 1 seed pulled away down the stretch for the victory. Two days later, they were upset by West Virginia.
2008: No. 1 Kansas 72, No. 12 Villanova 57
The Jayhawks jumped out to an early double-digit lead and never looked back. The Wildcats never got closer than six points the rest of the way. Kansas went on to win the national title in overtime over Memphis.
2008: No. 1 UCLA 88, No. 12 Western Kentucky 78
The Bruins, on their way to a third straight Final Four appearance behind Kevin Love, held off the frisky Hilltoppers, who got as close as four down the stretch. The Bruins were part of the all-1-seed Final Four, losing to Derrick Rose and Memphis in the national semifinals.
2006: No. 1 Memphis 80, No. 13 Bradley 64
The Patrick O’Bryant-led Braves popped upsets over 4-seed Kansas and 5-seed Pittsburgh, but the Tigers found another gear after halftime and steadily pulled away from the Missouri Valley challengers.
2005: No. 1 Illinois 77, No. 12 Wisconsin-Milwaukee 63
This game was notable because it involved one of the best teams to not win the title — the Illini with Deron Williams, Luther Head and Dee Brown — and also propelled Bruce Pearl to the Tennessee job.
2003: No. 1 Oklahoma 65, No. 12 Butler 54
The Bulldogs were torn up by Ebi Ere. Two days later, the Sooners were manhandled by Syracuse and some freshman named Carmelo Anthony.
2001: No. 1 Michigan State 77, No. 12 Gonzaga 62
This was the final year of the three-season NCAA tournament surge that launched the rise of Gonzaga. In this case, they drew the defending national champions who were on their way back to the Final Four for the third straight season.
1999: No. 1 Duke 78, No. 12 Southwest Missouri State 61
This Duke team was ridiculously good and if they hadn’t lost by three to UConn in the title game, would have been considered one of the three best teams of the 64-team tournament era. This also is Steve Alford’s only Sweet 16 appearance as a head coach. This run propelled him to the Iowa job.
1999: No. 1 Michigan State 54, No. 13 Oklahoma 46
The Sooners, led by Ryan Humphrey and Eduardo Najera, were not exactly a scrappy underdog, and they gave the heading-to-the-first-of-three-straight-Final Fours Spartans a solid tussle.
1996: No. 1 Massachusetts 79, No. 12 Arkansas 63
The Minutemen, who didn’t even start Marcus Camby, were an excellent teams and outclassed a modest Arkansas team that popped up in their Sweet 16 after beating Penn State and Marquette.
1994: No. 1 Arkansas 103, No. 12 Tulsa 84
The Razorbacks went on to win the national title with one of the more entertaining teams around. The Golden Hurricane lost their coach, Tubby Smith, a year later to Georgia.
1993: No. 1 Michigan 72, No. 12 George Washington 64
The second run of the Fab Five to the national championship game went through the Colonials in a surprisingly close encounter. Continuing our run of coaches who went on to bigger things, this GW team was coached by Mike Jarvis.
1992: No. 1 UCLA 85, No. 12 New Mexico State 78
The Bruins had a bit too much for the Aggies despite the best efforts of diminutive point guard Sam Crawford. I actually saw him and the Aggies the following year in Syracuse. He was great.
1991: No. 1 North Carolina 93, No. 12 Eastern Michigan 67
EMU was led by twin brothers Charles and Carl Thomas. Carl returned to the school for awhile as an assistant coach. After a competitive first half, the Tar Heels dropped the hammer on the 12-seed.
1990: No. 1 UNLV 69, No. 12 Ball State 67
The Cardinals were nearly successful with a slow-down tactic against the Runnin’ Rebels. This result could have altered history. Not only was this the Rebels’ national title team, but they pounded Loyola Marymount (the Bo Kimble team honoring Hank Gathers) in the Elite Eight.
1988: No. 1 Temple 69, No. 13 Richmond 47
Probably the best team John Chaney had at Temple, the 1988 Owls squad moved to to 32-1 on the year after this win. Mark Macon was the star, but he and the rest of the gang weren’t able to get past Duke in the regional final.
1987: No. 1 UNLV 92, No. 12 Wyoming 78
Fennis Dembo, y’all! Dembo had 27 points and the Cowboys actually led the game at the half, but the Rebels rallied, in large part because of 38 points from Armen Gilliam.
1986: No. 1 Duke 74, No. 12 DePaul 67
Rod Strickland’s Blue Demons gave it a go, but Danny Ferry and Mark Alarie were too much to handle. The Blue Devils went on to beat David Robinson’s Navy team to make the Final Four.
1985: No. 1 St. John’s 86, No. 12 Kentucky 70
Kenny “Sky” Walker did what he could, but the Johnnies, with Chris Mullen and Walter Berry, were too much to handle after a very competitive first half.