Florida Gulf Coast has a head start on second-seeded and host Oklahoma State in getting over the disappointment of missing the NCAA Tournament ahead of Tuesday's NIT first-round meeting. The seventh-seeded Eagles nearly erased a 32-point deficit in the Atlantic Sun Tournament final before falling to Lipscomb a week before Selection Sunday.

"I think we're regrouped and ready for our next task," Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Brandon Goodwin told the Naples Daily News. "We're looking at the bigger picture, trying to get to Madison Square Garden and continue having fun playing basketball. There's a lot of teams not playing basketball right now, so we're just grateful for the opportunity." The Cowboys thought they would make the NCAA Tournament field after winning eight games against Tournament teams, including four against Top 10 opponents. The Cowboys have not won a postseason game since 2011 but have some experience from last year's trip to the NCAA Tournament. The matchup between Oklahoma State guards Kendall Smith and Jeffrey Carroll and FGCU's Goodwin and junior Zach Johnson will go a long way in determining who advances to play third-seeded Stanford or sixth-seeded BYU.

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ABOUT FGCU (23-11): Goodwin leads the Eagles, who won 13 straight games between Dec. 29 and Feb. 10, with 18.6 points and 4.8 assists. Johnson adds 15.9 points after tying the school-record with 37 points against Lipscomb and senior guard Christian Terrell adds 12.1 points. The high-scoring Eagles, who have nine games with at least 90 points including the last three, have four players averaging at least 5.0 rebounds, led by junior forward Michael Gilmore (5.6).

Carroll leads the Cowboys with 15.1 points while Smith (12.9 points) is averaging 16.4 points and a 44.8-percent clip from the 3-point line over his past 14 games. Sophomore forward Cameron McGriff (8.7 points) came on strong at the end of the year, averaging 11.8 points and 6.5 rebounds in his past 12 games to compliment senior forward Mitchell Solomon (8.3 points, team-high 6.4 rebounds). The Cowboys force 14.4 turnovers - powered by 6.6 steals - and 4.0 blocks, and could cause the sometimes turnover-prone Eagles some trouble.


1. The Cowboys are 4-1 in home NIT games, including the 2011 victory against Harvard.

2. Goodwin needs 16 points to break his own single-season program record of 629 set in 2016-17.

3. Oklahoma State sophomore G Lindy Waters III has hit 13 of his last 21 3-pointers. The 3-point line will be moved back during NIT games as part of several experimental rule changes.

PREDICTION: Oklahoma State 78, FGCU 72

NCAA Basketball , basketball