Tristen Newton

Sophomore guard Tristen Newton drives past a Cincinnati defender in last season's matchup with the Bearcats.

East Carolina University men’s basketball team will open its 2020-21 season against Indiana State University on Nov. 25 in the first round of the eighth-annual Gulf Coast Showcase at Hertz Arena in Fort Myers, Florida.

The ECUPirates press release said after opening against the Sycamores, ECU will face either Austin Peay State University or University of Nebraska Omaha on Thanksgiving Day before closing out the tournament against one of the other four teams on the opposite side of the bracket, which includes Abilene Christian University, the University of Akron, East Tennessee State University and Middle Tennessee State University.

The first round game between Pirates and Sycamores will tip-off Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. Semifinal games will be played at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving (Nov. 26) night and Nov. 27 championship game will tip at 8 p.m. The press release said all 12 games will be streamed live and available on-demand on FloHoops.

President of bdG Sports Brooks Downing said in the press release bdG Sports has built the tournament with the health and safety of the teams in mind first and foremost. Downing said they have instituted a comprehensive safety plan that will focus on the host resort, game venue and ground transportation.

“Our partners at Hertz Arena, FGCU, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point, Naples Tours and Transportation, Summit One Source, which provides our testing, and Loop Insights, which provides contact tracing, have all bought in from day one how important it is that we do this right and, in a manner, which protects the players and coaches as best we can,” Downing said in the press release.

ETSU, the defending champions of the Southern Conference, was one of only four teams in the country with 30 wins despite the season being cut short due to the pandemic, according to the press release. Akron won the Mid-American Conference regular season title while Abilene Christian (Southland), Austin Peay (OVC) and Indiana State (Missouri Valley) all finished in the top-four of their respective regular-season league standings.

The press release said there will be no general fan access for the Gulf Coast Showcase games and tickets will not be available to the general public. A limited number of "Spectator Credentials" will be supplied to each team. A requirement to receive these team-issued credentials, all individuals will receive a COVID-19 rapid antigen test at the event's medical center at Hyatt Regency Coconut Point, according to the release.

As a part of bdG Sports' #BeachBubble tournament, this will be the first matchup between the Pirates and Sycamores since 1978 and just second overall, according to the press release. The Pirates finished fifth at the Gulf Coast Showcase in 2014.

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