March Madness is a time to celebrate underdogs. They’re the teams that fight and grit their way into the NCAA Tournament before grinding out wins against “better” basketball teams. They get in, maybe win a game or two, and lose because they’re ultimately an underdog who exceeded expectations. The school gets to sell a few t-shirts and see a spike in applications in the aftermath, and happily enjoy their moment in the spotlight.
All of that stuff about being happy to be there does not apply to the 2012-13 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, who on this day five years ago stunned the college basketball world by playing a style of hoops in wins over Georgetown and San Diego State that captivated the college basketball world.
The Eagles are still the only 15-seed to ever make it to the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend, and as starting point guard Brett Comer remembers, the team didn’t really think it had a ceiling.
“We knew we wanted to go to the tournament and make some noise,” Comer, now a graduate assistant at the University of Dayton, told Dime. “The fact that we won two games, at that point we thought why not just keep winning? There’s no reason why we can’t do it. We’re the first team in history to be a 15 seed and make it to the Sweet 16, might as well just keep going. I think we were wired in a way of like there’s no reason why we can’t now at this point.”
Comer was the engine that made this team go. He was a pass-first point guard who, as a sophomore, was second nationally in assist rate. When he got the ball in his hands, he got it to a teammate and put them in a position to make a play.
It was an attribute that fit perfectly in the fast-paced, wide open style of play that endeared Florida Gulf Coast to many. The team was 41st nationally in adjusted tempo that year and had the 19th-fastest offensive possessions in the sport, per KenPom.