Dance Card: Florida Gulf Coast, Atlantic Sun

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Basketball is all over the television, upsets are happening, and conferences are wrapping up their seasons to send their best, or their luckiest, to the NCAA tournament.

While Princeton is technically the first team in, having clinched the Ivy League, the Atlantic Sun Conference is the first to conclude its season, and so they claim the honor of your intrepid blogger's first preview. It won't be the last; by the time we get to March 17th, you'll know a little something about 64 teams, 64 coaches, 64 cities, and one slightly insane intrepid blogger.

We can't guarantee in-depth, brilliant analysis on everyone, but we can guarantee answers to the basics, and if you make a big splash with an upset pick, give us a holler.

Preliminary thanks go out to WBB State for RPIs and SOS numbers, Wikipedia for cities and schools, and the Board Junkies of Rebkell's for some primers that will come in handy later.

Who? The Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast University.

What? FGCU was founded with a strong environmental bent, so their colors are green and blue, and Azul (whose name means blue in Spanish) is supposed to represent the university's relationship with the environment.

Where? Fort Myers, Florida, spring training home of the Boston Red Sox.

When? March 3rd, at University Center on the campus of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.

Why? They won the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament.

How? The outcome was never in doubt for the Eagles, as they led Stetson wire to wire in a 67-39 win. Sarah Hansen led the Eagles with 16 points.

Surprise? Not remotely close to one. The Eagles were first in the preseason poll and ran the table in conference play to take the first seed in the conference tournament, six games ahead of Stetson.

RPI (as of 3/3): 69

SOS (as of 3/3): 317

Record: 29-2 (19-0 Atlantic Sun)

Good wins: Michigan State.

Bad losses: Most A-Sun teams would not be embarrassed about losing to a Big East team, but FGCU might be embarrassed about losing at Seton Hall.

Who's running this show? Karl Smesko, since 2001, the team's first coach.

Extra, Extra! The Naples News and the News-Press. (I was especially impressed by the Naples News last year.)

Eagles dig the long ball. Florida Gulf Coast leads the nation in made threes per game with just shy of 10 per, and they're twelfth in the country on accuracy, hitting their shots at a 37.2% clip. Sophomore guard Sarah Hansen leads the barrage for the Eagles, with 14.3 points per game. Freshman Whitney Knight's stats intrigue me, as she notches well-rounded numbers off the bench.

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