ESTERO, Fla. – Sixteen NCAA Division I basketball programs will descend upon Southwest Florida this Thanksgiving as the third-annual Gulf Coast Showcase is staged at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla. The men’s eight-team tournament, designed to showcase the top mid-major programs from across the country, will be held Nov. 23-25; it will be immediately followed by an eight-team, high-major women’s tournament from Nov. 27-29. bd Global, LLC, a Lexington, Ky.-based sports marketing firm, is managing the weeklong event.
Murray State, which won 25 straight games this past season, headlines the men’s field. The Racers were ranked as high as No. 24 in the nation and finished with a 29-6 record and only the fifth undefeated conference mark in OVC history but were upended in the league championship game and missed the NCAA Tournament in what was a very unpopular decision by the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Committee.
In the Gulf Coast Showcase, Murray State will be challenged by Central Michigan (23-9 last year and won the MAC West Division) and Western Kentucky (20-12 and a fourth-place finish in Conference USA).
2015 GULF COAST SHOWCASE MEN’S FIELD
- Central Michigan (Mid-American Conference)
- Drake (Missouri Valley Conference)
- Duquesne (Atlantic 10 Conference)
- Milwaukee (Horizon League)
- Murray State (Ohio Valley Conference
- Pepperdine (West Coast Conference)
- Weber State (Big Sky Conference)
- Western Kentucky (Conference USA)
“We created the men’s event to be a premium tournament strictly for college basketball’s top mid-major schools,” said bd Global President Brooks Downing. “Our men’s field is our deepest in three years with quality programs from around the country. To then follow it up with the best regular season women’s tournament in the country, it will certainly be an exciting week at Germain Arena.”
The women’s tournament features a strong field in which all eight teams played in postseason last year, including four teams that participated in the NCAA Tournament. Dayton advanced to the Elite Eight and led eventual National Champion and defending Gulf Coast Champion Connecticut at halftime before falling in its bid to advance to the Final Four. Louisville and Stanford both spent the entire season ranked among the Top 25 and each advanced to the Sweet Sixteen while LSU also earned a berth in the tournament.
2015 GULF COAST SHOWCASE WOMEN’S FIELD
- Dayton (Atlantic 10 Conference)
- Louisville (Atlantic Coast Conference)
- LSU (Southeastern Conference)
- Maine (America East Conference)
- Marist (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference)
- Missouri State (Missouri Valley Conference)
- Purdue (Big Ten Conference)
- Stanford (Pac-12 Conference)
“The mission of the Gulf Coast Showcase is to annually showcase the best teams in women’s hoops,” said Debbie Antonelli, ESPN analyst and Gulf Coast Showcase Tournament Host. “Last year, UConn rolled to the tournament title but we have eight great programs for 2015 and any of those eight could be playing for the crown on Sunday night.”
2014 Tournament Wrap-Up
More than 20,000 fans attended the tournament last November, and the first night of the women’s tournament set a tournament record with 3,987 fans in attendance as UConn debuted in Southwest Florida.
Four women’s teams from the 2014 Gulf Coast Showcase advanced to the NCAA Tournament led by eventual National Champion Connecticut. Minnesota, Green Bay and Arizona State also earned berths with the Sun Devils advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.
Four players from last season’s women’s tournament were named AP All-Americans. UConn’s Breanna Stewart and Minnesota’s Amanda Zahui B. were both first-team honorees while UConn teammates Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Moriah Jefferson were named to the second team. Stewart was named the AP National Player of the Year for the second straight season.
On the men’s side, both Green Bay and Hawaii advanced to its respective conference championship games (Green Bay fell to Valparaiso in the Horizon final and Hawaii lost to UC Irvine in the Big West final).
Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Returns as Official Host Resort
Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa will return as the official host resort for each of the teams of the 2015 Gulf Coast Showcase. Located in Bonita Springs, the 454-room resort is located just 15 minutes from Germain Arena and features multiple pools, 24 hour StayFit™ gym, cold-plunge waterfall, Stillwater Spa and the championship Raptor Bay golf course.
Travel Package and Ticket Information
Tickets for the 2015 Gulf Coast Showcase go on-sale on May 15 at 10 a.m. ET at GermainArena.com or through Ticketmaster. All-Tournament passes for either the men’s tournament or women’s tournament will be available on that date for $89 or $139 per tournament. Single session tickets will go on-sale this summer after match-ups and game times are announced.
WorldTEK, a full-service travel management company with more than 40+ years of experience, is the official travel package provider for the Gulf Coast Showcase. Information on fan travel packages will be released on Friday, May 1 on GulfCoastShowcase.com.
For complete information, visit www.gulfcoastshowcase.com or follow on Twitter at @GCShowcase.