ARLINGTON, TEXAS -- Bright lights, dunk city ... clunk city.
The darlings of this tournament, the latest and most unexpected team to add to the mythos of what March magic can be, is now no more. Florida Gulf Coast was beaten soundly by its big-conference brethren to the north. No. 3 Florida was trailing 17-6 more than 10 minutes into the game, but from there outscored the Eagles 56-23 to win 62-50 Friday night at Cowboys Stadium.
Florida's D -- No. 3 in the nation in points per possession -- held 15th-seeded FGCU to well under a point per possession and limited the Eagles to 45 percent shooting from the field.
UF's 29th win of the year was also its 29th by 10 or more points. While we shed a tear and remember the good times with Dunk City, let's not forget: Florida is, like, totally really good, everybody.
The Gators were led by Mike Rosario's 15 points. Sherwood Brown had 14 for FGCU. Yeah, this game wasn't that exciting. It was good early when FGCU had the big lead and a thought of getting to Sunday, but eventually that Florida D just ground this one to a grueling pace, forcing FGCU into 19 turnovers on 38 percent of its possessions.
FGCU had as many field goals as giveaways.
The dunks and lobs and flashy play that got Andy Enfield's team to this point with wins over Georgetown and San Diego State were few and far between. It looked like an undersized team overwhelmed by the Gators, not by the moment.
So please, please, don't say FGCU was celebrating too much or was too loose or should not have had pep rallies earlier this week. Don't say it was just happy to be here. That's not why this team lost. The odds said this team would lose. Florida is the No. 1 team in KenPom.com's rankings. It was the most popular pick coming into this weekend to get out of the region and get to the Final Four. It was supposed to win. It did.
Billy Donovan's club uglied up the game and made FGCU into an average team which, by the way, it's been most of the season. The Elite Eight trip for Florida and the Sweet 16 run for Gulf Coast offer up two separate things to be proud of. In the long run, the Eagles benefit more from this run, as of now, than the Gators.
Florida will play No. 4 Michigan on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET with a trip to Atlanta on the line. The Gators will be playing in their third consecutive Elite Eight. They've failed to get to the Final Four the past two seasons.