The number and dynamic of the Thanksgiving college basketball tournaments in Southwest Florida are growing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With the college basketball season scheduled to start Nov. 25, a total of 36 college basketball teams – 20 men, 16 women – could play in the area between Nov. 25 and Nov. 29. However, there’s a good chance fans won’t see most, if any, of the teams because of COVID-19 safety protocols.

The Fort Myers Tip-Off Tournament held at Suncoast Arena, lost Wisconsin, a preseason top-15 team, as well as Butler and Colorado from its original field. Organizers are working to find replacements as only South Florida remains.

Mark Starsiak, vice president of sports at Intersport, has been working the phones to bring in other schools for the tournament set to broadcast on FS1. Last year’s tournament included Pittsburgh, Northwestern, Bradley and Kansas State.

“Organizers for the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off continue to prepare for and will explore all opportunities to host the Tournament,” Intersport said in a statement. “Final details for the event, such as tournament dates and matchups, will be announced at a later date.”

Meanwhile, Brooks Downing — who runs both the Gulf Coast Showcase and Island of Bahamas Showcase — has been working to keep four tournaments in Southwest Florida.

From Nov. 25-27, there will be two men’s tournaments, the Gulf Coast Showcase at Hertz Arena and the Island of Bahamas Showcase, which moved to the Community School of Naples.

From Nov. 27-29, the Gulf Coast Showcase women’s tournament will be played at FGCU with the Eagles playing in the event.



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