After a huge win over Liberty, FGCU Men’s Hoops (19-10, 9-6) looks to wrap up the regular season against Jacksonville. Last time these teams faced each other, JU came out on top via a buzzer-beater to end the game. At the time, it was largely viewed as a game/team the Eagles should have won/beaten. Now that the season is nearing completion, Jacksonville has proven to be among the top teams in the conference. Below, we will break down the matchup.
As stated, the Dolphins caught a lot of folks by surprise this year, proving to be a top team in the conference. They are currently 19-8 and 11-4 in ASUN play. Even more impressive, JU finished the regular season with a 14-0 record at home. Leading them in this much-improved season is Kevion Nolan. The 6’2″ redshirt junior guard transferred to Jacksonville before last year after spending his first 2 college seasons playing for Samford. Now, in his first full season with the team, he is averaging approximately 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. Also, Nolan scored a season high (25 points) against FGCU last time they played, including that infamous buzzer-beater to lift JU to victory. In addition to Nolan, JU relies heavily on the services of fellow redshirt junior, Bryce Workman. The 6’7″ / 230 pound forward is currently averaging about 10 points and 5 rebounds, despite only being a part-time starter. In addition to these guys, the Dolphins have 5 players who average between 8 and 9 points per game. Among these players is the 6’10” / 250 lb redshirt sophomore, Mike Marsh.
FGCU – Outlook
The seeding for the ASUN tournament has already been set for the Eagles. As the 3rd seed in the East Division, they will play UNA (6th in the West) at home in the opening round on Tuesday (3/1). Jacksonville, on the other hand, is still playing for seeding. Despite this, FGCU still has plenty to play for. For one, after the buzzer-beater loss to the Dolphins early in ASUN play, this 2nd matchup is a revenge opportunity for FGCU. The aforementioned loss took place during a low-point in the season for the Eagles. Now, FGCU has won 6 out of their last 7 and is playing some of their best basketball. Another reason for extra motivation has to do with program legacy. Starting with the famed Sweet 16 team, FGCU had 6 straight 20+ win seasons and was making a name as a top Mid-major program. After 3 straight less-than-stellar campaigns, the FGCU coaches and players have a shot at getting that elusive 20-win benchmark. Doing so is one potential accomplishment, among others, that could solidify this as a special season.
FGCU has put themselves in this favorable position on the backs of Tavian Dunn-Martin (TDM) and Kevin Samuel. TDM has been the offensive catalyst all season long and averages approximately 21 points, 3 rebounds and 6 assists per game, heading into this upcoming contest. Over the last 4 games, he has averaged about 28 points, 4 rebounds, and 9 assists. Most recently, he scored a program record of 43 points in the win over Liberty. Samuel has simply been a dominant big for the Eagles. Heading into the game, he is averaging about 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. In addition to these difference-makers, Cyrus Largie, Caleb Catto, Matt Halvorsen, Austin Richie, and others all provide a volatile level of contribution to the team. Each of those individuals has the ability to take over a game on any given day.
In summation, this should be a great college basketball game as both teams have more than pride to play for. JU has rare size for an ASUN team in terms of depth. Of course, the Eagles have quite a bit of size as well. Last time these teams met, both squads shot pretty average but the Dolphins were more efficient from beyond the arc and from the FT line, and also won the rebounding battle. I expect players like Largie, Richie, Catto, and Halvorsen, to make much bigger impacts in this game. The latter two are being honored for Senior night and it would be great for them to really shine in this one.
Following the game, we will be doing a podcast to wrap up the regular season and discuss the upcoming ASUN tourney. Once released you’ll be able to listen wherever “pods” are “cast” (Spotify/Apple/Google/YouTube) or here at ScreecherReport.com/podcast. To stay up to date on all content release, follow Screecher Report on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube.