Three teams with brand names, basketball pedigrees and high seeds plus a team lacking all of those attributes will be at Cowboys Stadium Friday for the South Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. The Big 12 Conference is the host institution.
Regular season and postseason champion Kansas, the No. 1 seed, advanced Sunday with a 70-58 victory over No. 8 seed North Carolina. The victory was the Jayhawks’ third over the Tar Heels and coach Roy Williams (for 15 years the KU coach) in the NCAA Tournament. The previous two came in tourneys where Kansas won the national championship (2008) and reached the title game (2012).
The Jayhawks (31-5) will take on No. 4 seed Michigan (28-7). The Wolverines of the Big Ten Conference advanced with a dominating 78-53 victory over No. 5 VCU Saturday. Michigan, which won the national title in 1989, has reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1994.
The other half of the regional is from the Sunshine State.
Florida, the last school to win back-to-back national championships (2006 and 2007), has reached the Sweet 16 for a third consecutive season for the first time in school history. The third-seeded Gators (28-7) put away No. 11 seed Minnesota, 78-64, Sunday in Austin, Texas.
After the game, Florida’s Mike Rosario was asked about the Gators’ regional semifinal opponent. “Right now we don't know too much about those guys,” he said.
Rosario and the Gators aren’t alone although the knowledge about Florida Gulf Coast University will grow exponentially over the next few days.
The Eagles (26-10) become the first No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 with an 81-71 victory over San Diego State Sunday. FGCU qualified by winning the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament and became the first team to win at least 2 games in its first Men's Basketball Championship appearance since … its next opponent, Florida in 1987.
"Our goal was to make history and we did it," Eagles coach Andy Enfield said.
The history making will continue starting Friday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.