The Gulf Coast Showcase released the pairings Tuesday for its men’s basketball tournament, which will run Nov. 24-26 at Germain Arena in Estero, Florida. Evansville will lock up with Fresno State in the opening round, with the victor to face the East Carolina-Green Bay winner.
Here is a closer look at each of the matchups, top players for each team, etc.
Game 1: Green Bay vs. East Carolina
— Green Bay finished 24-7 last season and posted a 14-2 record in the Horizon League in winning the conference’s regular-season title. The Phoenix lost to Belmont in the first round of the NIT.
Final 2013-14 RPI: 69
Top player: There may not be a better player in the Gulf Coast Showcase than Green Bay senior Keifer Sykes. The 6-foot guard averaged 20.3 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds last season. Sykes was named the Horizon League Player of the Year and an honorable mention Associated Press All-American. And he brings his best against top competition; he lit up Wisconsin for a career-high 32 points in a 69-66 loss last season, and posted 21 points and 10 assists as the Phoenix knocked off Virginia, which earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Oh, and he can do this:
If you’d like to read up more on Sykes, who the Aces could see in their second game of the tournament, ESPN’s C.L. Brown recently wrote a blog post about him.
— East Carolina finished 17-17 overall, 5-11 in Conference USA and lost to Wright State in the first round of the CIT.
Final 2013-14 RPI: 223
Top players: Caleb White, a 6-7 sophomore guard, averaged 12.4 points as a freshman. Senior sharpshooter Paris Roberts-Campbell has started 52 consecutive games, posted 11.9 points per game last season and racked up 53 steals (the sixth-highest single-season total in ECU history). More than 56 percent of Roberts-Campbell’s made field goals in his career have come from 3-point range.
Game 2: Fresno State vs. Evansville
— Fresno State finished 21-18 and 9-9 in the Mountain West last season. The Bulldogs lost to Siena in the CBI’s best-of-three championship series.
Final 2013-14 RPI: 106
Top players: The Bulldogs return four starters and five of their top seven scorers, led by junior guards Marvelle Harris (14.3 points per game) and Cezar Guerrero (13.1 ppg) and 6-foot-6 sophomore guard/forward Paul Watson (10.0 ppg). Last season’s leading scorer, Tyler Johnson (15.9 ppg), is on the roster of the Miami Heat.
— Evansville finished 14-19 and 6-12 in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Aces lost to conference champion Wichita State in the second round of the MVC tournament.
Final 2013-14 RPI: 210
Top players: The Aces return 96 percent of their scoring output from last season, but their two clear stars are junior guard D.J. Balentine and junior post Egidijus Mockevicius. Balentine led the MVC in scoring at 22.8 points per game, connecting on 40 percent of his 3-point attempts. Mockevicius was the team’s second-leading scorer (10.5 ppg) and led the league in rebounding (8.3 rpg).
Game 3: Florida Gulf Coast at Marist
— Florida Gulf Coast finished 22-13 last year and 14-4 in the Atlantic Sun, losing to Florida State in the first round of the NIT.
Final 2013-14 RPI: 148
Top players: Bernard Thompson, a 6-foot-3 guard, led FGCU in scoring last season at 15.1 points per game, but the team’s most flashy player — and most recognizable remnant of the 2013 run to the Sweet 16 that inspired the nickname ‘Dunk City’ — is his backcourt mate Brett Comer. Comer scored 13.7 points per game last season and averaged 5.3 assists.
Comer’s court vision was apparent on this play, which may be the signature play of Dunk City’s run two seasons ago. The good part starts at about the 20-second mark.
— Marist finished 12-19 and 9-11 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, bowing out in the first round of the MAAC tourney.
Final 2013-14 RPI: 245
Top players: The Red Foxes return their top two scorers from last season in 6-5 wing Chavaughn Lewis (17.5 ppg) and 6-2 guard Khallid Hart (14.7 ppg).
Game 4: San Francisco at Hawaii
— San Francisco went 21-12 and 13-5 in the West Coast Conference. The Dons lost to LSU in their opening game of the NIT.
Final 2013-14 RPI: 80
Top players: Of the Dons’ five double-figure scorers last season, only 6-7 forward Kruize Pinkins (12.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and 6-9 forward Mark Tollefsen (10.5 ppg) return.
— Hawaii finished 20-11 and 9-7 in the Big West. The Warriors lost in to Cal State-Northridge in the conference tournament.
Final 2013-14 RPI: 161
Top players: Isaac Fotu, a 6-8 junior forward, was named to the all-Big West first team last season. He was second on the team in scoring (14.9) and rebounding (6.1), and led the team with 58 percent shooting from the field. The Warriors also return a little scoring punch in the backcourt with 6-2 senior Garrett Nevels (13.1 ppg).