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Top men’s, women’s NCAA basketball teams in town for tip-off tournaments

By CJ HADDAD - | Nov 20, 2023

An annual Thanksgiving-week college basketball tournament that brings some of the most highly regarded programs to Southwest Florida kicked off Monday.

The sixth-annual Fort Myers Tip-Off has again taken over Suncoast Credit Union Arena on the campus of Florida Southwestern State College for the three-day, nationally-broadcast competition.

This year’s slate includes a Beach Division made up of Wisconsin, Virginia, West Virginia, and SMU. The winners of Monday’s games, which will see the Badgers take on the Cavaliers and Mustangs face off against the Mountaineers, compete in the championship game Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m.

Virginia, a program that is just on the cusp of being a top 25 program, entered the tournament at 4-0, while Wisconsin sits at 2-2. Both West Virginia and SMU are above .500 at 2-1 and 3-1 respectively, and will play one another for the first time in school history.

“The excitement for this year’s tournament continues to build as we get closer to tip off,” said Mark Starsiak, vice president at Intersport and tournament director of the Fort Myers Tip-Off, in a release. “Each program brings not only a successful basketball pedigree but also an incredibly passionate fan base that we expect turning out in full force this Thanksgiving. This promises to be one of the most highly anticipated tournaments that we’ve had in our short history.”

Tickets for this year’s Beach Division games have sold out, according to event organizers.

“This is an outstanding collection of teams that will make for a very exciting few days of basketball at the 2024 Fort Myers Tip-Off,” Starsiak stated. “Between brand name programs, All-Conference caliber players and experienced coaches, this will likely be one of the most intense, balanced and competitive editions of the Fort Myers Tip-Off we’ve had in the tournament’s young history.”

This year’s Palms Division, that features a three-game round-robin schedule, will see Appalachian State, Murray State and UNC Wilmington square-off.

It won’t just be the men hitting the hardwood this week in Fort Myers, as the 2023 Elevance Health Women’s Fort Myers Tip-Off has a stacked field of participants.

Eight-time national champion Tennessee, 2023 NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed Indiana and six other power conference programs are set to show their skills throughout the week.

A total of eight teams are split into two divisions over the three days of the event. Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma and Princeton make up the Island Division, with games set for Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, and Nov. 25. FOX will provide a national television platform for the Elevance Heath Women’s Fort Myers Tip-Off on Thanksgiving night when the network broadcasts the Tennessee-Indiana contest at 6 p.m. Oklahoma and Princeton will open the event with a 3 p.m. start on Thanksgiving Day. On Nov. 25, Indiana will face Princeton and Tennessee takes on Oklahoma.

Shell Division games are set for Nov. 24 and 25 and will follow a traditional bracket format. Boston College faces Marquette and Wisconsin takes on Arkansas in opening-round games on Nov. 24, with the third-place and championship games of the Shell Division set for Nov. 25.

“We’re excited to build on the momentum of a very successful inaugural year of the Elevance Women’s Fort Myers Tip-Off by doubling the number of participating teams and adding a network television broadcast for what should be one of the top college basketball games of the young 2023-24 season,” Starsiak stated. “The collection of programs set to participate in this year’s event will make the Elevance Health Women’s Fort Myers Tip-Off one of the top early-season showcases in the sport.”

For the latest regarding tournament news, ticket information and more, visit fortmyerstipoff.com.