All Eyes On Florida's Gulf Coast University At NCAA Tournament

The NCAA men's basketball tournament is back in action on Friday. The Cinderella squad, Florida Gulf Coast University, hits the court against its long dominant in-state rival: the University of Florida.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

The NCAA men's basketball tournament resumes today. Most folks will probably be paying attention to the Cinderella team, Florida Gulf Coast University, the first 15 seed to advance this far. It won't be easy for FGCU. They're playing the instate power, the University of Florida. And we are going to check in now with both campuses. We'll start at FGCU with Ashley Lopez of member station WGCU in Fort Myers.

ASHLEY LOPEZ, BYLINE: This whole week, FGCU has been a flurry of activity. A lot of excitement has been here at the school's bookstore as people snap up FGCU merchandise. No one needs to ask where the shirts and the hats are because the long line of shoppers has snaked through the store all week. Victor Katis visits southwest Florida from Chicago each year. He says he's followed the team for a long time. He's now one of the many standing in line.

VICTOR KATIS: This is actually the third time we've been to the bookstore and both two times before there was nothing to buy. It's just been sold out. It's been crazy here.

LOPEZ: Around campus, there's a nervous excitement. FGCU freshman Paige Oswald says she doesn't know what to expect because really no one expected the team to get this far.

PAIGE OSWALD: I mean, we're kind of in a bad position right now because everybody's like so hyped up about it. And if we don't win, it's like our five minutes of fame are over.

LOPEZ: But not all FGCU students are as reserved.


LOPEZ: At a student pep rally this week, thousands pack into an auditorium to celebrate. Ty Jackson says this excitement will keep the team going against UF.

TY JACKSON: I believe that they can do it. They've done what they've done so far and they were the underdog. And actually they weren't even the underdog. Nobody even knew they existed, really. And so, I believe they're going to do it.

LOPEZ: And just about everyone at this university hopes that they do keep winning. For NPR News, I'm Ashley Lopez in Fort Myers.

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