After starting the season 3-0, including a victory over then-ranked Florida State, No. 24 Florida will travel to the state’s West Coast to participate in the Fort Myers Tip-Off.
The event features eight teams split into two divisions. The Beach Division features the four power programs involved in the tournament, Cal, Florida, Ohio State and Seton Hall, and the Palms Divison contains Bowling Green, Milwaukee, Southern Utah and Yale. Each division will name its own champion rather than all eight teams in a single bracket.
Florida’s first matchup comes against Cal on Nov. 22 while Ohio State faces Seton Hall in the first round. First-round winners will advance to a championship game on Nov. 24, and the losers will play for third place earlier in the day.
It’s almost go time! Four power programs, two days of non-stop action, one champion who will #OwnTheFort.
— Fort Myers Tip-Off (@FTMyersTipOff) November 15, 2021
Here’s a closer look at the teams in Florida’s division.
Florida has gotten off to a great start this season defeating rival Florida State and moving into the AP Top 25. Much of the team’s success can be traced back to center Colin Castleton, who was named SEC Player of the Week after putting up 15 points and 16 rebounds against the Seminoles.
Forward Anthony Duruji has come along as the hustle player of the team and is averaging 11.7 points per game and seven rebounds per game. Tyree Appleby and Myreon Jones are shooting a combined 41.7% from beyond the arc as well.
|Anthony Duruji||F||6-7 / 220||R-Senior|
|Colin Castleton||F||6-11 / 231||Senior|
|Tyree Appleby||G||6-5 / 205||Senior|
|Brandon McKissic||G||6-3 / 185||Graduate|
|Myreon Jones||G||6-3 / 175||Senior|
Cal opened the season with losses to UC San Diego (4-0) and UNLV (3-1), the latter of which was decided by just three points. The Golden Bears notched their first win of the season against San Diego (3-2) on Monday, but double overtime was needed for them to overcome Southern Utah (1-3) on Tuesday.
Part of the Fort Myers Tip-Off event involved the Beach Division teams hosting a Palms Division team before the tournament. Southern Utah challenged Cal far more than Milwaukee did Florida, so that may indicate a Gators advantage for the first round.
Forward Andre Kelly is Cal’s best scorer averaging 16.8 points per game. The Golden Bears play three forwards in their starting lineup, all of which are two inches shorter than Colin Castleton.
|Kuany Kuany||F||6-9 / 194||Junior|
|Grant Anticevich||F||6-9 / 230||Fifth-year|
|Andre Kelly||F||6-9 / 255||Senior|
|Joel Brown||G||6-3 / 192||Junior|
|Jordan Shepherd||G||6-4 / 190||Graduate|
Things haven’t gone so smoothly for Ohio State to start the season, but the Buckeyes are still 3-1 on the year so far. OSU only beat Akron (2-1) by a point in the season opener, but Niagara (1-3) proved to be less challenging after that. The Buckeyes massacred their Palms Division matchup for the Fort Myers Tip-Off, Bowling Green (1-3), but then lost to Xavier (4-0) in the Gavitt Games.
Forward Sueing Justice will be out for the Buckeyes for some time with an abdominal injury. Without Justice, the team has leaned forward E.J. Liddell for scoring and rebounding.
|Jamari Wheeler||G||6-1 / 170||Graduate|
|Malaki Branham||G||6-5 / 230||Freshman|
|Justin Ahrens||F||6-6 / 195||Senior|
|E.J. Liddell||F||6-7 / 240||Junior|
|Zed Key||F||6-8 / 245||Sophomore|
Seton Hall might be the biggest threat to Florida on paper. For starters, the Pirates are undefeated on the year, including a win over No. 4 Michigan. The rankings haven’t quite caught up to the Pirates’ big win, but they should be ranked by the time of the tournament.
They also have a 7-foot-2-inch center, Ike Obiagu, making Seton Hall the only team in Florida’s way with a proper center to handle Colin Castleton. The starting lineup is good, but the bench being deep might be the scariest part about this Pirates team. The Pirates bench has outscored opponents 95-34 this season.
|Jamir Harris||G||6-2 / 195||Graduate|
|Kadary Richmond||G||6-6 / 200||Sophomore|
|Myles Cale||G/F||6-6 / 210||Graduate|
|Alexis Yetna||F||6-8 / 225||Graduate|
|Ike Obiagu||C||7-2 / 265||Graduate|