The Jacksonville State men’s basketball team is slated to compete in the 11th annual Men’s Cancun Challenge, tournament officials announced Monday. The Gamecocks are set to play two mainland games in early November before squaring off in tournament play at Cancun’s Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya during Thanksgiving Week.
JSU opens the invitational Nov. 12 at Penn State in the first game of the mainland bracket. The Gamecocks then travel to Peoria, Illinois, on Nov. 14 to take on Bradley University for the Challenge’s final game inside the United States.
Following mainland play, the field splits into two divisions. Jacksonville State, North Florida, Southern Miss and Western Carolina will make up the Mayan Division and the Riviera Division will consist of Bradley, SMU, Penn State and Wright State. The Gamecocks take on Western Carolina at 11:30 p.m. CST on Nov. 20 and move on to play a fourth and final game on Nov. 21. Both games will be streamed live on CBS Sports Digital.
“I think this tournament is a great opportunity for our team,” JSU Coach Ray Harper said. “On the basketball side, we are getting to play against some great basketball teams. Penn State is the defending NIT champion. They barely missed the NCAA Tournament last year and will probably be in it this year. Penn State, Bradley, Western Carolina and the fourth game we draw will all be great tests before we dive into conference play.”
The 2018 Cancun Challenge serves as the first tournament outside the Contiguous United States for JSU since competing in the 2013 British Virgin Islands Tropical Shootout. It is the second Cancun Challenge a Ray Harper team has been a part of. Harper led Western Kentucky to a 4-1 record in the 2012 Challenge, earning wins over Austin Peay, Western Carolina and DePaul, and losing Iowa.
“I think it is always good to play in a tournament like this,” Harper said. “A tournament like this takes our kids to a place they may never get to visit again. We will work in a day where our guys can get out, experience a different culture and enjoy being somewhere they’ve never been. It’s about more than just basketball.”
Seating is limited for the tournament and fans are encouraged to book land travel packages through Triple Crown Sports for admission into games in Mexico. Travel packages are the only way to guarantee admission to games.
For travel package information, contact Sarah Sullivan at 970-672-0533 or email@example.com, or visit www.cancunchallenge.net.
For more information on the JSU men’s basketball team, follow the Gamecocks on Twitter (@JSU_MBB). For more on all Gamecocks sports teams, follow the official social media accounts of JSU Athletics on Twitter (@JSUGamecocks), Facebook (Facebook.com/JSUGamecocks), Instagram (@JSUGamecocks) and Snapchat (@JSUGamecocks).