Posted: Nov 09, 2020
FORT MYERS, Fla.- Suncoast Credit Union Arena at Florida SouthWestern State College will be rocking on Thanksgiving and Black Friday as the field for the third Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off has been released, highlighted by the nation's preseason #1 ranked team in Gonzaga, along with Kansas, who closed the 2019-2020 season as the unanimous top team in the country, a 25 game winner from a season ago in Auburn, and tradition rich Saint Joseph's, who returns their top five scorers from last season.
The tournament kicks off with one of the marquee matchups of the entire college basketball season as #1 Gonzaga goes head-to-head with #6 Kansas Thanksgiving Day at 1:30 PM on FOX. The second tilt of the day will feature Bruce Pearl's Auburn Tigers taking on a trending Saint Joseph's squad at 4:30 on FS1. Friday, the action continues at 11 AM as the Zags battle Auburn on FOX and the tournament comes to a close with KU and St. Joe's squaring off at 2 PM on FS1.
"We are thrilled to be able to welcome some of college basketball's blue bloods to Southwest Florida for the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off," said Mark Starsiak, vice president at Intersport and event director for the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off. "With the litany of scheduling challenges these programs faced in light of the new start of the college basketball season, we're proud to bring these teams together for four games of incredible competition on a national stage. We're looking forward to two days of high-level competition and put a national spotlight on Fort Myers, Lee County and Southwest Florida."The health and safety of everyone involved in the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off is the event's top priority. Event organizers are regularly monitoring developments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and will implement safety measures based on prevailing guidelines from the Florida Department of Health and national health entities to help protect the health and safety all of players, coaches, fans and staff.
Auburn has recorded three straight seasons with 25 or more wins under Bruce Pearl, including a 30-win campaign in 2018-19 that saw the Tigers notch their first Final Four appearance in program history. Entering his seventh season with Auburn, Pearl returns a young roster and welcomes one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. Devan Cambridge, Jamal Johnson and Allen Flanigan each appeared in all 31 games for the Tigers last season, with Cambridge and Johnson leading the team in 3-point shooting percentage. Auburn's five-man recruiting class is comprised of highly touted players, including top-100 prospects Sharife Cooper, JT Thor and Justin Powell.
Gonzaga, a 31-win team last year, welcomes back an experienced nucleus of talent, led by Preseason All-American Corey Kispert, along with all-conference caliber standouts Joel Ayayi and Drew Timme. The Bulldogs, which boast six 30-win campaigns in the last eight years – including each of the last four seasons – also add three top-100 freshmen to its roster, headlined by top-10 prospect Jalen Suggs. Head coach Mark Few, now in his 22nd season at the helm of the Gonzaga program, owns a 599-124 career record, an .828 winning percentage – a mark that ranks second all-time in NCAA history. Few has guided the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament every year, including the 2017 national championship game, and to a No. 1 ranking in three of the last four seasons.
Led by Preseason All-American Marcus Garrett, Kansas enters the 2020-21 campaign as a consensus top-10 program. The Jayhawks returned to the top of the Big 12 last season and finished the season as the No. 1 ranked team in the Associated Press poll. Head coach Bill Self enters his 18th season with the Jayhawks and owns a 501-109 record with the program. Kansas has made three Final Fours, claimed the 2008 NCAA Championship and has never been lower than a four seed in the NCAA Tournament under Self. In addition to Garrett, Kansas returns juniors Ochai Agbaji and David McCormack, who started 31 and 18 games, respectively, for the Jayhawks last season. KU's four newcomers include 2020 McDonald's All-American guard Bryce Thompson along with junior college All-American transfer Tyon Grant-Foster.
Saint Joseph's returns nearly every major contributor from its roster for the 2020-21 season, including its top five leading scorers from last year's squad. Ryan Daly, who was a third team all-conference performer last year, finished the season as the A-10 scoring leader at 20.6 points per game, while adding 6.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Cameron Brown (10.1 ppg), Taylor Funk (9.4), Myles Douglas (7.8) and Rahmir Moore (7.3) return to make up the Hawks' top five scorers from last season's squad. Head coach Billy Lange enters his second season at the helm of the Hawks, coming to the program after spending six seasons as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Due to social distancing restrictions inside the arena, an extremely limited number of fans will be able to attend the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off. There will be no public sale of tickets, but a small number of socially distanced pairs of tickets will be distributed. Fans interested in attending the event should submit a ticket request form at www.fortmyerstipoff.com/tickets. Fans will be contacted by a ticket representative on a first-come, first-served basis, based on the submission date of their ticket request form, for their opportunity to purchase tickets.
Launched in 2018, the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off brings the nation's top college basketball programs together for two days of incredible competition to see which team and their fans will #OwnTheFort during Thanksgiving Week. Contested at Suncoast Credit Union Arena, the home of Florida SouthWestern State College, the four-team tournament has quickly become a staple of the Southwest Florida sports calendar. For more information on the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off, please visit www.fortmyerstipoff.com.