FGCU schedule taking shape; UMBC, Florida, Ole Miss headlining

Lee Herald Favicon 16It’s just over three months until the start of basketball season, but the schedule for the FGCU men’s basketball team is starting to take shape, and at least one showdown that NCAA Tournament fans will enjoy.

The Eagles will travel to Baltimore – County, that is – to play 2018 NCAA Tournament and Twitter darlings UMBC on Dec. 16, part of a home and home series that will see the Retrievers come to Fort Myers during the 2019-20 season.

UMBC became the starts of March Madness last season when the Retrievers used red-hot second half shooting to stun No. 1 seed Virginia, 74-54, becoming the first No. 16 seed in the history of the men’s tournament to ever win a first round game, and played to the final minutes with No. 9 Kansas State before falling 50-43 in the second round.

The two programs are billing the game as the #CinderellaShowdown – the only 16-seed to ever win an NCAA Tournament game versus the only 15-seed to ever reach the Sweet Sixteen.

FGCU released most of the team’s schedule for 2018-19 this week, however there are still several games missing from the schedule as contracts gets signed and they become official.

The largest of those missing games is against Florida on Dec. 22 in Sunrise as part of the Orange Bowl Classic, as originally reported by Jon Rothstein in June. Florida is one of two SEC teams that the Eagles will face, travelling to Oxford, Miss. to play Ole Miss a week later on Dec. 29.

One more guarantee game – where a mid-major school plays a road game against a power conference team in exchange for a check – is expected to be announced later for mid-November, says a source close to the team.

FGCU starts their season against Illinois State on the road on Nov. 6, the back-leg of a home-and-home that saw both schools open their season at Alico Arena last fall. The Eagles won that game 98-87.

On the homefront, the Eagles first officially announced home game is on Nov. 16, against South Dakota State. The Eagles will also play home games against Colgate on Dec. 2, and FIU on Nov. 28, along with two not yet announced games against non-Division I schools.

If five non-conference home games sounds low – it is – it’s because the Eagles are also in the field for the as-yet-unannounced Gulf Coast Showcase the week of Thanksgiving, according to a team source. Toledo and Colorado State are so far the only confirmed teams to be taking part in the tournament at nearby Germain Arena. The Eagles played in the tournament in the 2014-15 season, beating Marist and San Francisco before losing to Green Bay in the final.

Atlantic Sun play, in the new-look nine-team ASUN conference, starts on Jan. 5 with FGCU playing host to new member Liberty. The Flames come over from the Big South Conference, joining Division II mover North Alabama as the two new teams joining the conference. USC-Upstate left the ASUN to replace Liberty in the Big South after last season.

Does not include six yet-to-be-announced games
ASUN Games in bold

at Illinois State, Nov. 6
South Dakota State, Nov. 16
at FAU, Nov. 25
FIU, Nov. 28
Colgate, Dec. 2
at Oral Roberts, Dec. 5
at UMBC, Dec. 16
at Florida(in Sunrise), Dec. 22
at Ole Miss, Dec. 29
Liberty, Jan. 5
at North Alabama, Jan. 8
at UNF, Jan. 12
at Kennesaw State, Jan. 19
Stetson, Jan. 21
at Lipscomb, Jan. 24
UNF, Jan. 27
at NJIT, Jan. 30
Jacksonville, Feb. 2
North Alabama, Feb. 6
at Liberty, Feb. 9
NJIT, Feb. 13
at Stetson, Feb. 16
Lipscomb, Feb. 20
Kennesaw State, Feb. 23
at Jacksonville, Mar. 1
ASUN Tournament begins Mar. 4

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