ESTERO, Fla. – South Carolina, which beat Stanford and Mississippi State in the Final Four to capture its first national championship, headlines the 2017 Gulf Coast Showcase, the annual men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments played each Thanksgiving at Germain Arena.
Notre Dame and local favorite South Florida join the Gamecocks in the women’s bracket. The men’s tournament field is headlined by Towson, a favorite to win the Colonial Conference title this season, Georgia Southern, who many believe will contend for an NCAA Tournament berth in the Sun Belt, and a rebuilding Florida Atlantic squad whose campus is in nearby Boca Raton.
“South Carolina and Notre Dame may garner most of the attention but this field may be deeper than any other in the five-year history of the Gulf Coast Showcase,” said Debbie Antonelli, ESPN analyst and Women’s Tournament Director. “The quality of coaching is off the charts with two Hall of Fame coaches in Muffet McGraw and Vivian Stringer, as well as Dawn Staley who was enshrined as a player. South Florida returns nearly its entire team and is battle-tested while Western Michigan and ETSU will contend for league titles this year.
“Germain Arena will feel like an NCAA Regional on Thanksgiving weekend.”
The men’s tournament will be played Nov. 20-22, the Monday thru Wednesday of Thanksgiving week. Two former assistants under Louisville head coach Rick Pitino will battle in the first game when Kareem Richardson guides UMKC against Steve Masiello and his Manhattan Jaspers at 11 a.m. on Monday. Georgia Southern, which returns 99% of its scoring from last year, and Towson are both expected to compete for the men’s title. The complete first-round schedule for Nov. 20 is as follows:
- 11 a.m. ET – UMKC vs. Manhattan
- 1:30 p.m. ET – Georgia Southern vs. Missouri State
- 5 p.m. ET – Penn vs. NIU
- 7:30 p.m. ET – Towson vs. FAU
Game times for Tuesday and Wednesday will be the same with semifinal games on Nov. 21 at 5:00/7:30. Wednesday’s championship game will tip at 7:30.
“On the men’s side, the Gulf Coast Showcase is strictly for mid-major programs and this year’s event has some of the best rising coaches in all of college basketball,” said Brooks Downing, president of bd Global, the tournament owner. “Coach Masiello has led Manhattan to two NCAA Tournaments, Pat Skerry has won 20-plus games in three of the past four seasons and Coach Richardson set the school-record for wins last year at UMKC. Add in three coaches in the women’s field that are in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and you will not find a finer collection of coaches at any other event in the country.”
On Friday of Thanksgiving weekend, the women’s tournament tips with defending National Champion South Carolina facing Hall of Fame coach Vivian Stringer and her Rutgers squad in the second game of the afternoon session at 1:30 p.m. Dawn Staley’s Gamecocks will be led by A’ja Wilson, the Most Outstanding Player of last season’s NCAA Tournament and the favorite for the national player of the year award this season. St. John’s (22-12 last season) will face Western Michigan (19-13) in the 11 a.m. opening game.
The evening session will feature South Florida (24-9 last season with an NCAA Tournament berth) making the two-hour trek south to face Washington State, as well as Notre Dame against ETSU. The Irish, coming off its seventh-straight 30-plus win season, hopes All-American Brianna Turner can return to action after tearing an ACL in March.
The schedule for the opening round of the women’s tournament is as follows:
- 11 a.m. ET – St. John’s vs. Western Michigan
- 1:30 p.m. ET – South Carolina vs. Rutgers
- 5 p.m. ET – South Florida vs. Washington State
- 7:30 p.m. ET – Notre Dame vs. ETSU
For the third consecutive year, the tournament will support the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. The hospital is the only children’s hospital between Tampa and Miami and provides vital health care for the region’s sick and injured children and their families. The hospital recently completed a $242 million facility that provides 300,000 square feet of space, 128 pediatric and NICU beds with space to expand to 160 beds, a 17-bay emergency department, a freestanding pediatric pharmacy and in-hospital school classroom.
Ticket and Fan Travel Information
Tickets for the 2017 Gulf Coast Showcase go on public sale on Monday, Aug. 28 at 10 a.m. ET at GermainArena.com or through Ticketmaster. All-Tournament passes for either the men’s tournament or women’s tournament are available for $74, $99 or $149 per tournament. Single session tickets, ranging from $10 General Admission to $45 Courtside for each two-game session, will go on-sale later this summer. Each day of the tournament will feature an afternoon session (starting at 11 a.m.) and evening session (5 p.m.) and tickets will be good for both games of a given session.
Fan travel information, including preferred hotel rates at Hyatt Regency Coconut Point, is available on GulfCoastShowcase.com.
Campus Games Schedule
Nov. 10 – St. Francis @ NIU
Nov. 13 – Frostburg State @ Towson
Nov. 16 – Bluefield State @ Georgia Southern
Nov. 16 – Edward Waters @ FAU
Nov. 18 – Penn State Brandywine @ Penn
Nov. 24 – Evangel @ Missouri State
Nov. 30 – Olivet @ Western Michigan