A week ago, Florida Gulf Coast University was just another overlooked No. 15 seed — a long shot at best to nearly everyone eyeballing their NCAA Tournament brackets.
Now the Eagles are the high-flying show from ‘‘Dunk City’’ in the round of 16, the darlings of the South Regional in Arlington, Texas, and a bracket-busting team everybody is talking about even when surrounded by former national champions Michigan, Kansas, and Florida.
‘‘Things have changed dramatically,’’ FGCU coach Andy Enfield said.
‘‘The way we looked at it, we did make history. We feel like we shocked the world,’’ said Brett Comer, the guard with 22 points and 24 assists in two NCAA games. ‘‘Nobody picked us to beat Georgetown, or San Diego State, for sure. We’re going to prepare for Florida the same way. We’re going to try to win again.’’
Florida Gulf Coast (26-10) plays SEC regular-season champion Florida (28-7), the No. 3 seed in the South, Friday night. The improbable intrastate showdown is magnified even more at Cowboys Stadium, where the court is on a raised stage and below giant high-definition screens.
‘‘Even if you make big plays, it’s hard to get a good angle on that TV, you have to stand right on the edge [of the court],’’ Eagles forward Chase Fieler said. ‘‘We'll have to run more toward the sideline to see it.’’
Florida, which won consecutive national titles in 2006 and 2007, has been to regional finals each of the last two years. But this is the last chance for seniors Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy, and Mike Rosario to get a championship of their own.
Florida presents a challenge, ranked second nationally allowing 54 points a game.
FGCU scored 78 against Georgetown, including a 21-2 run, and scored 17 in a row in the second half against San Diego State on the way to 81 points.
In the first game Friday at Cowboys Stadium, freshman-laden Michigan (28-7) takes on a veteran squad from Kansas (31-5).
Mitch McGary is one of three freshmen who start alongside Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke, a national player of the year candidate who leads Michigan at 18.8 points per game. The Jayhawks have four senior starters with 45 NCAA games between them.
Michigan spent a week at No. 1 in the poll before going 6-6 leading into the NCAAs. That included a blowout loss to Michigan State and a slow start against 13th-seeded South Dakota State in the tournament.
Hardaway and Glenn Robinson III — both sons of former NBA players — offset a rough game for Burke in the tournament opener with 21 points apiece before McGary took charge in the next round. The late-season swoon made more sense after four Big Ten teams were among the final 16 for the second straight year.
Kansas is dealing with a slump from leading scorer Ben McLemore, a freshman and the only non-senior starter. He played just 24 minutes — his fewest since before conference play — and went 0 of 9 from the field against North Carolina. He had a career-low 2 points after scoring just five in the Big 12 tournament championship against Kansas State.
Dana Altman and his Oregon Ducks know exactly what they’re up against with Louisville and that hair-on-fire defense. They’ve been watching the Oregon football team wreak the same kind of havoc for years now.
‘‘It’s almost the same situation that our football team runs into when teams are trying to get ready for them. They play so much faster and their team speed is different,’’ Altman said. ‘‘I don’t think teams can really get ready for our football team. And I don’t think we can prepare for the speed of Louisville: their quickness, their guard quickness, their overall team speed, and the different looks they throw at you.’’‘
The 12th-seeded Ducks (28-8) reached the regional semifinals for the first time since 2007, and their reward is a Friday night date with Louisville in the Midwest Regional at Indianapolis.
The Cardinals (31-5) looked every bit the overall top seed in their first two games, routing North Carolina A&T and Colorado State by an average of 28.5 points while forcing 47 turnovers. Both the Aggies and Rams finished with more turnovers than field goals.
In Friday’s other game in Indianapolis, two of the nation’s most successful coaches are squaring off.
Mike Krzyzewski has an NCAA-record 956 career wins, and four national championships at Duke, winning two titles in Indianapolis. Tom Izzo has a school-record 493 wins and one national title at Michigan State.
And few have been better in the postseason. Both coaches have winning percentages of .736 or better in the NCAA tourney. Krzyzewski’s 11 Final Four appearances are the most of any active coach. Izzo is tied for third with six.
The last time Krzyzewski faced Michigan State, the Blue Devils gave him a 74-69 win that broke Bob Knight’s career record for wins.