Fort Myers Tip-Off announces 2023 field including SMU, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin

The four-team Beach Division field of the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off was announced Wednesday with SMU, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin making up the bracket.

Next year’s event returns to Suncoast Credit Union Arena and will take place Nov. 20-22. Matchups, game times and TV will be announced at a later date.

2022 First Day:Utah, Mississippi State earn wins in opening round of Fort Myers Tip-Off

2022 Second Day:South Dakota to face Sam Houston in Fort Myers Tip-Off Palms Division final

“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 in a release. “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.

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins talks to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Pittsburgh, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The four head coaches boast incredible resumes. Bob Huggins, 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.

Nov 15, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard Max Klesmit (11) talks with Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard during the first half against the Green Bay Phoenix at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

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 Fort Myers Tip-Off Beach Division:

SMU Mustangs

  • Head coach Rob Lanier is in his first year at the helm for SMU. 
  • Overall, Lanier’s teams have made 12 NCAA Tournaments, won five conference titles, three regular season championships, and two conference tournament crowns

Virginia Cavaliers

  • 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

West Virginia Mountaineers

  • 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

Wisconsin 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)

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