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2016 Gulf Coast Showcase Primer: Houston The Favorite Among 8 Teams Headed To Florida

The Cougars, a 22-win NIT team last season, will likely be challenged by Vermont, Hofstra, and Kent State in Fort Myers.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

To catch up on all of the posts in this series visit the 2016-17 Early Season Events hub.

What Is It?

The Gulf Coast Showcase (official website)

How Long Has This Event Been Around?

BD Global Sports started the Gulf Coast Showcase as a mid-major-focused event in 2013, so this will be its fourth season. Legacy of Little Guys' Ray Curren, formerly of the Mid-Majoritywrote a piece exploring its origins that I highly recommend.

This season, the Gulf Coast Showcase will be joined by the Lone Star Showcase outside of Austin. It would be next up in my parade of primers, but the field and bracket haven't been released as of July 26th, so its post will wait.

Next year, BD Global Sports plans on launching the Vancouver Showcase, but I would expect that event to feature major conference programs, like the promoter's Men Who Speak Up Main Event.

When And Where Is It?

The eight participants will play three games over three days in Estero, Florida, just outside of Fort Myers. The quarterfinals are set for the Monday of Thanksgiving week, November 21st, with the semifinals on Tuesday, November 22nd, and the finals on Wednesday, November 23rd.

Who's Playing?

Here's how the quartet of first round matchups shake out.

UVM
Vermont Catamounts (AE)
vs.
Wofford Terriers (SoCon)
Wofford
Hofstra
Hofstra Pride (CAA)
vs.
Bradley Braves (MVC)
Bradley
Kent St
Kent State Golden Flashes (MAC)
vs.
South Dakota Coyotes (Summit)
South Dakota
Houston
Houston Cougars (American)
vs.
George Mason Patriots (A 10)
GMU

Logos from SportsLogos.net

Did Any Of These Teams Make The NCAAs or NIT Last Season?

None of the eight entrants reached the NCAAs, but Hofstra and Houston played a single game each in the NIT—the Pride after they lost a heartbreaker to the UNCW Seahawks in the CAA Tournament final. Vermont, meanwhile, fell to the Nevada Wolf Pack in the CBI semifinals.

Are There Any Non-Bracketed Games?

Not per se. Participants may schedule a contest against a non-Division I team as their fourth game of the event.

Have Any Of These Teams Made The Trip Before?

Since this edition will conclude the Gulf Coast Showcase's first four-year cycle, we won't see a returnee until 2017.

Who's Played In Other BD Global Events Recently?

Given the short histories of this tournament and the Men Who Speak Up/MGM Grand Main Event, there's been little crossover between the two fields. I cannot say the same for the Lone Star Showcase, however.

Any Other Notable Recent Meetings?

Hofstra and George Mason were CAA rivals between the Pride's 2001 entry and the Patriots' 2013 departure to the Atlantic 10. The 2005-06 season was particularly notable, as George Mason made the NCAA field as an at-large at the expense of a Hofstra team it lost to twice, including in the conference tournament semifinals.

Last season, George Mason and Bradley were in the Charleston Classic field, but didn't meet. Wofford defeated the Patriots in that event's 2010 third-place game. The Terriers took down South Dakota in the final Coaches vs. Cancer subregional in 2014. Three years earlier, Wofford knocked off Bradley in Peoria in an on-campus game for the now-defunct Chicago Invitational Challenge.

Who Won Last Year?

The Weber State Wildcats snuck by the Central Michigan Chippewas in last season's quarterfinals before cruising past the Drake Bulldogs and Murray State Racers to win the title.

Did Any 2015 Entrants Make The NCAAs Or NIT?

Only the Wildcats reached the NCAA Tournament, where they fell to the Xavier Musketeers. Duquesne and Pepperdine both played in the CBI, with the Dukes winning a game one there. Central Michigan found itself in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, where the Chips dropped their only contest.

Will It Be On TV?

Probably not, but BD Global will stream the event on its YouTube page.

Who Do You Think Will Win?

Last season, Houston won 22 games but didn't get a sniff of an NCAA bid because of their non-conference schedule. Participating in this event, where they'll be the favorite, won't help. Wofford, Hofstra, and South Dakota lost key performers from last season to graduation, while Bradley and George Mason look likely to struggle again. Vermont and Kent State should contend in the America East and MAC, respectively, but neither will probably count as a quality win come Selection Sunday.

Here are my picks. Note that last season I predicted a Murray State-CMU final. At least I was half right.

Quarterfinals

Vermont over Wofford
Hofstra over Bradley
Kent State over South Dakota
Houston over George Mason

Semifinals

Vermont over Hofstra
Houston over Kent State

Bradley over Wofford
George Mason over South Dakota

Placement Games

7th/8th Place: Wofford over South Dakota
5th/6th Place: George Mason over Bradley
3rd/4th Place: Kent State over Hofstra
Championship: Houston over Vermont

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