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Game of the week: Stetson vs. FGCU (Preview and Open Thread)

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Tomorrow is a battle of two Atlantic Sun heavyweights as the Stetson Hatters take on the FGCU Eagles. Both teams enter Saturday's game with top-50 RPIs: FGCU is No. 14 and Stetson is No. 50. Below is a preview of tomorrow's contest -- and also an open thread/chat to talk about Saturday's matchup here.

Photo by Linwood Ferguson

Who: Stetson Hatters vs. FGCU Eagles

Where: Alico Arena (Fort Myers, FL)

Time: 4:05 PM EST

Live Video: ESPN3

Last Meeting: FGCU defeated Stetson 72-70 in overtime of Atlantic Sun Championship final

Preview:

It's rare for a game of the week to be two mid-majors -- especially with those two being from the Atlantic Sun. But there's always exceptions to the standard norm -- and that's the case for tomorrow's game at 4:05 pm EST when the Stetson Hatters face the FGCU Eagles.

FGCU coach Karl Smesko had this to say to Seth Soffian of the News-Press:

"This has some real significance," said Smesko, noting the A-Sun tournament host duties awarded this season to the regular-season champion. "But whoever wins or losses, it's not the end of their season."

These two stellar programs -- and conference heavyweights -- have become mid-major powers in recent years. As a matter of fact, this game has been termed the best rivalry in all of the Atlantic Sun. If this were to be compared to a football rivalry, it would be Georgia vs. Georgia Tech. Two schools in the same state who just plain don't like each other -- "Clean Ole Fashioned Hate" as they say.

Both enter Saturday's contest with a top-50 RPI: the Eagles are 14 and the Hatters are right around 50. In talking with Stetson assistant coach Dave Saur, he stated that the Hatters have been engrossed this week: "In my two years here, this is the most focused I've seen the team."

"For us to win this game, it's going to come down to rebounding and keeping our turnovers down," said Stetson coach Lynn Bria.

Dana Caldwell of the Naples News, who has watched this rivalry develop from its inception, spoke of the magnitude of this game: "This should be a great game -- because once the Hatters came from a 13-point deficit, to upset the Eagles two years ago in the A-Sun Championship, this has become a true rivalry game."

Tale of the Tape:

FGCU

  • 13-2 record 
  • RPI of 14
  • Defending Atlantic Sun champions
  • First in conference scoring at 78.2 pts per game
  • First in percentage offense at 38.4%
  • Players to watch: 6'3" G Whitney Knight (15.6 pts, 5.8 rebs, 1.9 blks), 5'7" G Kaneisha Atwater (14.4 pts), 5'8" G Stephanie Haas (12.3 pts)

Stetson:

  • 11-3 record
  • Top-50 RPI
  • First in conference scoring defense at 58.1
  • First in conference percentage defense at 34.8%
  • Players to watch: 6'3" F Amber Porter (13.8 pts, 7.6 rebs, 2.3 blks), 5'7" G Myeisha Hall (12.9 pts, 4.8 rebs), 5'7" G Jama Sharp (12.9 pts, 4.4 asts, 3.0 stls), 5'4" G Brianti Saunders (12.9 pts