NASSAU, The Bahamas – Evansville, which toppled No. 1-ranked Kentucky last week, and Liberty, a Cinderella-team from the this past year’s NCAA Tournament, headline a highly competitive field when the third-annual Islands of the Bahamas Showcase tips off at Baha Mar on Friday. The eight-team men’s NCAA Division I tournament features some of the top mid-sized programs in the nation.
“This is not just a trip to an incredible destination location, but an opportunity for these teams to play quality competition on a neutral court as the new season gets underway,” said Brooks Downing, founder of bdG Sports whose company manages this event, along with the two Korn Ferry Tour professional golf tournaments in Exuma and Abaco each January. “Several of these teams are likely to win their conference and compete in the NCAA Tournament come March, and because they’re talented, many bigger schools refuse to schedule them, making an event of this caliber all that more important.”
That wasn’t the case with upstart Evansville, which is located in southern Indiana and who was coached by former Kentucky Wildcat Walter McCarty, who in just his second year as a head coach, led the Aces to the surprising upset of his alma mater in their famed facility of Rupp Arena 10 days ago. Evansville, now 3-1 on the season, will open the tournament Friday night at 8:00 p.m. against East Carolina, which is based in Greenville, North Carolina.
“I’m pretty happy with what we’re doing right now, I really am,” McCarty told his local newspaper, the Courier & Press. “As long as we keep building, keep learning, and hopefully keep putting Ws in that column, it’s going to be a good thing.”
Liberty, which is located in Lynchburg, Virginia, finished the 2018-19 season winning the Atlantic Sun Conference and advancing to the NCAA Tournament where it upset No. 5-seed Mississippi State. The Flames will play Morgan State, based in Baltimore, Maryland in the first round. Morgan State just defeated George Washington this past week, and Milwaukee already owns a win over Kansas City, which just this season changed its name from UMKC. Those teams are on the opposite side of the bracket this weekend.
There will be four games per day, 11 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. as each team is guaranteed three games, win or lose. The seventh place, fifth place, third place and championship games will be played on Sunday. Admission is $15 per day or $40 for a tournament pass. Parking is located in the Baha Mar Convention Center Parking Lot.
For the past two years, the tournament has housed its teams at the new $4.3 billion resort, the largest in the Carribbean, and played its games at Kendal Isaacs National Gymnasium. Given the damage that Hurricane Dorian created on Sept. 1 to the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco in the northern Bahamas, the gym is still being utilized as a storm shelter for displaced residents. Baha Mar agreed to play the tournament in its New Providence ballroom.
The event typically generates more than 1,000 room nights and significant economic impact through tourism. All 12 games will be streamed live on FloHoops.com.
The full schedule is below:
Friday, Nov. 22
- 11 a.m. – Liberty (5-0) vs. Morgan State (2-2)
- 2 p.m. – Rice (4-1) vs. Milwaukee (4-1)
- 5 p.m. – Kansas City (2-3) vs. George Washington (1-3)
- 8 p.m. – Evansville (3-1) vs. East Carolina (1-3)
Saturday, Nov. 23
- 11 a.m. – Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser
- 2 p.m. – Game 3 Loser vs. Game 4 Loser
- 5 p.m. – Semifinal: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner
- 8 p.m. – Semifinal: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner
Sunday, Nov. 24
- 11 a.m. – Seventh Place Game
- 2 p.m. – Fifth Place Game
- 5 p.m. – Third Place Game
- 8 p.m. – Championship Game