OCALA-- The 2016 FCSAA/NJCAA Men's State Basketball Championship tips off Wednesday, March 2 on the campus of College of Central Florida in Ocala, Fla. Below is a preview of the quarterfinal match ups between the state's Top 8 teams. All games will be livestreamed on the FCSAA YouTube Channel. Be sure to visit CFPatriots.net/fcsaatournament for up-to-date tournament news and results.
Quarterfinal No. 1: St. Petersburg vs. Palm Beach State, 1 p.m.
Notes: St. Petersburg (20-10) enters the tournament on a five-game winning streak, while the Panthers (23-7) come in winners of three straight, including an 88-82 win over Broward in the Southern Conference final. St. Petersburg, the champions of the Suncoast Conference, made the tournament finals two years ago. The Titans lead the state by forcing 16.1 turnovers per game. Dondre Duffus (13.8 points, 2.0 steals) and Shaq Speights (12.0 points) are the top performers for veteran coach Earnest Crumbley, the longest tenured coach in the state and the active leader in wins. St. Petersburg lost in the semifinals in a close overtime game to Eastern Florida State last season. For Palm Beach, it knocked off Broward twice over the course of its three-game streak to close the season after it had lost four of five games. The Panthers average 85.5 points and make an impressive 49.8 percent of their shots. Derrick Clayton (12.9 points), Ivan Canete (11.9 points), Joseph Williams-Powell (11.6 points, 6.5 rebounds) and Shawn Davis (11.4 points, 6.4 rebounds) lead Palm Beach.
Quarterfinal No. 2: College of Central Florida vs. Northwest Florida State, 3 p.m.
Notes: A rematch of the 2013 NJCAA National Championship Game. The Patriots are led by exciting point guard K.J. Maura, the Mid-Florida Conference Player of the Year. Maura leads the nation in assists (9.9) and is sixth in steals (3.4). Over the course of the season, Maura set the single-game state assist record with 20 in a win over FSC-Jacksonville. CF also has set a single season record for most home wins in a season. Backing Maura have been Eddy Polanco (14.7 points) and Devaughn Jenkins (11.4 points). The key for the Patriots will be keeping the Raiders off the boards. Northwest Florida State enters the game as the nation's No. 2 rebounding team at 50.2 rebounds per game and have a 19.2 rebound margin. The Raiders (23-5) are led Shadell Millinghaus (17.3 points, 5.2 rebounds), Jared Wilson-Flame (14.9 points) and Daryl Edwards (12.5 points) are the players to watch for NWFS. The Raiders are ranked No. 12 nationally and second in the state. Only one player is back from last year's national championship squad.
Quarterfinal No. 3: Eastern Florida State vs. Tallahassee, 6 p.m.
Notes: EFS (27-3) enters the tournament ranked fourth nationally and No. 1 in the state. The Titans qualified for the NJCAA National Tournament as the Zone Qualifier for Region 8, by virtue of finishing as state runner-up. EFS led the state by making 40.9 percent of its 3-pointers and also enjoyed a 13.9 rebound margin over its foes. C.J. Jackson (16.5 points, 2.4 steals), Kareem Brewton (14.7 points) and B.J. Gladden (11.9 points, 9.3 rebounds) lead the Titans, who went 15-0 in rolling to the Southern Conference championship. EFS has also made the state finals in two of the last three seasons. TCC (19-11) finished as Panhandle Conference runner-up. The Eagles averaged 82.8 points per game during the regular season and were third in the state in rebounding at 43.2 per contest. Daishon Smith (16.5 points), David Simmons (14.2 points, 7.0 rebounds) and Ryan Johnson (12.3 points) are the players to watch for TCC.
Quarterfinal No. 4: Daytona State vs. Polk State, 8 p.m.
Notes: Daytona State (24-6) enters the tournament on a seven-game winning and clinched a share of its third straight Mid-Florida Conference crown in the process. The Falcons have lost in the opening round in each of the past two seasons. This time around, DSC will look to reverse this trend, as the likes of Oscar Cabrera (14.1 points), Kendrick Thompson (13.5 points), Brandon Maxwell (12.8 points), Tyquone Greer (12.4 points, 7.1 rebounds) and Nashad Mackey (10.6 rebounds) look to provide the difference. DSC averages 83.2 points per game and is second in the state in rebounding at 44.3 per game. Polk is back in the state tournament after a year absence. The Eagles split a pair of games with the Falcons during the regular season. Polk is led by Troy Simons (16.8 points), Dominique Reid (14.3 points, 8.2 rebounds) and Darrell Porter (11.4 points). The Eagles are the top defensive team in the tournament, as they hold their foes to 68.2 points per game. Polk's last appearance in the state tournament saw it upset Eastern Florida State in the opening round, before it fell to Chipola in the semis two years ago.