ESTERO, Fla. – A deep women’s field headlined by two top-10 teams and last season’s national runner-up will descend upon Southwest Florida when the fourth-annual Gulf Coast Showcase tips off during Thanksgiving week. In addition to the hometown FGCU Eagles, the ladies’ draw features Ohio State, Baylor and Syracuse among the eight-team field. The men’s tournament field includes three teams that won 20-plus games last season in Hofstra, Houston and Vermont. Pairings for both events were released Friday by the event’s organizer, bd Global.

The action tip with the men’s tournament, which is designed to showcase the nation’s top mid-major programs, featuring 12 games played over three days, Nov. 21-23 at Germain Arena. Houston leads the field coming off a 22-win campaign and a third-place finish in the American Athletic Conference ahead of NCAA Tournament teams Cincinnati and Connecticut. The Cougars open play in the tournament against 2006 Final Four “Cinderella” George Mason. The complete first-round schedule for Nov. 21 is as follows:

  • 11 a.m. ET – Vermont vs. Wofford
  • 1:30 p.m. ET – Hofstra vs. Bradley
  • 5:00 p.m. ET – Kent State vs. South Dakota
  • 7:30 p.m. ET – Houston vs. George Mason

Game times for Tuesday and Wednesday will be the same with semifinal games on Nov. 22 at 5:00/7:30. Wednesday’s championship game will tip at 7:30.

“To have a brand like Houston along with Colonial-champ Hofstra, a 23-win team in Vermont and a 19-win team like Kent State again shows the strength of this men’s mid-major tournament,” said Brooks Downing, president of bd Global, the tournament owner. “And of course, we are very grateful that Coach Smesko and athletics director Ken Kavanaugh continue to support this event with FGCU’s participation. The strength of the women’s field speaks for itself. This is ‘the best’ women’s college basketball tournament in the sport, bar none.”

Following a day off on Thanksgiving Day, the women’s tournament commences with two-time NCAA Champion Baylor facing Kent State in the opener. The Lady Bears return last season’s Big 12 Player of the Year, senior Nina Davis, and adds an elite recruiting class led by the nation’s top high school player in Lauren Cox. DePaul plays Western Kentucky, Atlantic 10-champ George Washington will play Syracuse, but the first round’s most anticipated match-up will be Ohio State, predicted by analyst to be a top-10 program, battling local-favorite Florida Gulf Coast, which is located just two miles from Germain Arena.

The schedule for the opening round of the women’s tournament is as follows:

  • 11 a.m. ET – Baylor vs. Kent State
  • 1:30 p.m. ET – DePaul vs. Western Kentucky
  • 5:00 or 7:30 p.m. ET – Ohio State vs. FGCU
  • 5:00 or 7:30 p.m. ET – Syracuse vs. George Washington

“This is the deepest and most experienced top-to-bottom field in the four-year history of the Gulf Coast Showcase,” said Debbie Antonelli, ESPN analyst and Women’s Tournament Director. “The quality of the teams and the level of coaching is like an NCAA Regional. We have two top-five programs, four of the eight have been to the Final Four and Baylor has won two national championships in recent years. I’m very excited to assist in bringing three days of big-time women’s college basketball to Southwest Florida.”

For the second straight 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 currently boasts a 98-bed inpatient facility located within HealthPark Medical Center in south Lee County. Construction is currently underway on a new facility set to open in early 2017. The new building will provide 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. The final round of fundraising is on-going with the $100 million goal close to being met.

Opening Games

As part of the tournament, a slate of “Opening Games” will be played at home sites:

Nov. 11 – Illinois Springfield @ Bradley
Nov. 15 – Allen University @ Wofford
Nov. 15 – Lebanon Valley @ George Mason
Nov. 16 – Angelo State @ Houston
Nov. 17 – Doane College @ South Dakota
Nov. 17 – Lyndon State @ Vermont
Nov. 18 – Hiram College @ Kent State
Nov. 25 – Medaille College @ Hofstra
Dec. 4 – Ave Maria @ FGCU

Ticket and Fan Travel Information

Tickets for the 2016 Gulf Coast Showcase are on-sale now at 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