The strangest story conference tournaments have brought us thus far this year was the emergence of the Stetson Hatters. As you've probably heard by now, the Hatters are banned from the NCAA Tournament due to APR issues and were allowed to compete in the Atlantic Sun Tournament nonetheless.
All they did over the past week is put fear in the heart of conference officials as they knocked off #2 NJIT and then #6 Lipscomb. The league ruled if Stetson defeated #4 Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday then the ASun's regular season champ, North Florida, would go dancing. Obviously, this didn't sit well for many, especially for FGCU fans since the Eagles knocked off UNF earlier this week.
The Hatters came into a raucous environment at FGCU's Alico Arena with more or less nothing to play for but nothing to lose. The whole game Stetson was able to play with a casual flow while FGCU looked tight and almost nervous on their home floor. It showed as the Hatters took a 5 point lead into halftime and maintained that lead through most of the second half until the Eagles had a minor comeback to force the first overtime final in the ASun since 2006. Stetson headed into overtime without ASun second teamer Brian Pegg, who fouled out late in the half finishing the game with just 6 points.
Stetson had an opportunity to win or tie in overtime with 9.2 seconds left and the ball, but Zach Johnson blocked a final attempt from the Hatters to seal an 80-78 victory. Dunk City will represent the ASun in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013 when they went on an epic run.
Johnson finished the game with 19 points, five rebounds, and that game winning block. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons came off the bench for 21 points and 12 rebounds.
While FGCU won't be as formidable as the 2013 squad and may be on their way to Dayton, the Atlantic Sun has plenty of recent history of being pesky in the NCAA Tournament.