Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia and SMU Make Up 2023 Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off Field
FORT MYERS, Fla. (Nov. 23, 2022) – The four-team Beach Division field of the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off was announced today, featuring four power conference programs that are set to compete for early-season bragging rights next November.
SMU, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin make up the four-team Beach Division of the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off, which will take place Nov. 20-22. All games will be played at Suncoast Credit Union Arena on the campus Florida SouthWestern State College in Fort Myers, Fla. Matchups, game times and television designations will be announced at a later date.
The only way to guarantee tickets for the Tournament is by purchasing an official fan travel package. Travel packages for the 2023 Tournament will go on sale in early 2023, but fans can immediately register to receive information and email alerts from the Tournament regarding travel package availability. Details and registration information can be found at www.fortmyerstipoff.com/travel. Ticket-only packages, based on availability, will go on sale next fall.
“The four teams taking part in the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off are historically strong programs that reinforce the premier status of this event in the eyes of the college basketball community,” said Mark Starsiak, tournament director and vice president at Intersport. “Between national championship contenders, recent Final Four participants, coaching veterans and passionate fan bases, these teams will create a very special environment. We can’t wait to host these programs in Lee County and Southwest Florida.”
The four programs of the 2023 Beach Division have combined for 82 conference regular season or tournament championships and 92 NCAA Tournament appearances. Wisconsin and Virginia have each appeared in the Final Four within the last decade and the Cavaliers claimed the 2019 NCAA Championship.
The four head coaches that will bring their teams to Southwest Florida in 2023 boast incredible resumes that make them among the most respected and successful in college basketball. Bob Huggins, now in his 16th season as West Virginia head coach and 41st overall, is a newly minted Naismith Hall of Famer and ranks among the NCAA all-time coaching leaders. Tony Bennett led Virginia to a national title in 2019 and is in his 14th season leading the Cavaliers. Greg Gard, the reigning Big Ten Coach of the Year and Naismith National Coach of the Year finalist in 2022, has guided Wisconsin to Big Ten regular-season titles in two of the last three seasons. Finally, Rob Lanier is in his first year at the helm for SMU after three years as the head coach at Georgia State and arrives in Dallas with over 30 years as a collegiate coaching experience at Tennessee, Florida, Texas and Virginia, among others.
Now in its fifth year, the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off has become one of the top early-season events in the country and a fixture in the Southwest Florida sports calendar. The tournament, which has hosted several Final Four-caliber programs in its first four seasons including Gonzaga, Kansas, Auburn, Loyola (Chicago), Florida and Ohio State, will welcome four power conference programs to the Beach Division for the third straight year (Georgia Tech, Marquette, Mississippi State and Utah in 2022; Florida, Ohio State, Cal and Seton Hall in 2021).
The 2023 Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off will once again include a second, four-team Palms Division field. Those four participating programs will be announced in the coming months.
About the Teams of the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off Beach Division:
• Head coach Rob Lanier is in his first year at the helm for SMU
• Lanier arrived in Dallas with more than 30 years of experience as a collegiate coach, including the last three years as the head coach at Georgia State
• Overall, Lanier’s teams have made 12 NCAA Tournaments, won five conference titles, three regular season championships, and two conference tournament crowns
• 2021-22: 24-9 overall record and 13-4 mark in conference play; was one of the top four seeds in the 2022 NIT
• Head coach Tony Bennett is entering his 14th season leading the Cavaliers and his 17th season overall; is on the cusp of winning his 400th game during the 2022-23 season
• Bennett has led Virginia to 10 consecutive postseason appearances, including the 2019 national championship, five ACC regular-season titles and two ACC Tournament championships
• Has started this year 4-0 and knocked off a pair of top-20 programs to win its early-season tournament last Sunday
• 2021-22: 21-14 overall record and 12-8 mark in conference play, reached Third Round of NIT
West Virginia Mountaineers
• Head coach Bob Huggins, entering his 16th season leading the Mountaineers and 41st overall, was inducted to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2022
• Huggins recently moved into third place on the all-time Division I coaching wins list, recently tying Jim Calhoun with 920 career victories; he is second all-time among active Division I coaches
• The Mountaineers have made 10 appearances in the NCAA Tournament since Huggins’ arrival for the 2007-08 season
• 2021-22: 16-17 overall record and 4-14 mark in conference play
• Head coach Greg Gard, the reigning Big Ten Coach of the Year and Naismith National Coach of the Year finalist, is entering his eighth season at the helm for the Badgers
• Gard has led the Badgers to Big Ten regular-season titles in two of the last three seasons
• Since Gard took over the program in 2015, the Badgers have made five NCAA Tournaments, missing the postseason just once (not including the canceled 2020 postseason)
• 2021-22: 25-8 overall record and 15-5 mark in conference play; Big Ten Champions; reached Second Round of NCAA Tournament