First Four Preview: Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Gulf Coast (20-13)

Conference: Atlantic Sun

Tournament history: 2-1 in one appearance – a Sweet 16 trip in 2013

Key players: F Marc-Eddy Norelia, 6-8, R-Jr. (17.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg), G Christian Terrell, 6-5, So. (12.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg), G Zach Johnson, 6-2, R-Fr. (11.2 ppg, 3.2 apg), G Julian DeBose, 6-4, R-Sr. (8.6 ppg), F Antravious Simmons 6-9, R-So. (7.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg)

Key stat: FGCU ranks 20th with 28.3 defensive rebounds per game and is 44th in rebound margin at plus-5.0 per game.

Could make a tournament run if… Norelia is on top of his game. So much of the Eagles’ success centers around him. Only five teams have held him under 10 points this season and four of them were losses.

Will struggle if… forced to the line. The Eagles are among the worst free-throw shooting teams in the nation, making just 64.7 percent.

Etc: It’s been three years since Florida Gulf Coast captioned America’s attention with a high-flying, fast-paced “Dunk City” attack during it magical run as the only 15 seed in NCAA tournament history to advance to the Sweet 16 in just its second eligible season since moving up from Division II. The Eagles haven’t returned to the dance since but have recorded four straight 20-win seasons, and now they’re back with former Kansas assistant Joe Dooley leading the way. He’s slowed the pace, and FGCU relies much more on getting the ball inside.

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