DUNK CITY, Fla. – For the first time in its history, the FGCU men’s basketball team will be showcased alongside eight of the premier college basketball programs in the country on Friday, Oct. 18, as ESPN has selected Dunk City as one of its nine destinations for its annual Midnight Madness coverage on ESPNU.
The event, which unofficially tips off the 2013-14 college basketball season, airs on ESPNU from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Plans are still being finalized, but Dunk City After Dark Presented by Coconut Point Ford (FGCU’s event name for its Midnight Madness) is estimated to run from 9:30-11 p.m. in Alico Arena.
Along with FGCU, the other eight schools being showcased are: Duke, Kentucky, Syracuse, UConn, Memphis, Oklahoma State, New Mexico and Wichita State. ESPN college basketball analyst LaPhonso Ellis will be on-site to commentate, report and interview. Ellis, who was the fifth overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, graduated from Notre Dame in 1992 and has been with ESPN since 2009.
In addition to Ellis being on-site, ESPNU host Matt Schick will be joined by college basketball analysts Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg and Andy Katz in the Bristol headquarters. The trio will provide analysis and preview FGCU’s upcoming season, in addition to other top programs in the nation.
FGCU officials are still finalizing the schedule for Dunk City After Dark Presented by Coconut Point Ford, but preliminary plans call for an introduction video, 3-point contest (men and women), scrimmage, player skits and the highly-anticipated dunk contest. The Eagles soared onto the national radar in March due largely to their polarizing and brazen dunks, earning the moniker #DunkCity and helping the team become the first-ever No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16.
ESPNU’s whip-around coverage of all nine locations will be shown from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Segments of each school’s event will be broadcast nationally. In addition to FGCU, Wichita State – which advanced to the Final Four last year – and New Mexico will also be featured for the first time.
Admission is free and open to the public; however, the FGCU volleyball team hosts Lipscomb earlier that evening at 7. Fans are encouraged to attend that game, and a special $3 discounted ticket is available for the volleyball game, which also ensures fans a seat at the general-admission Dunk City After Dark Presented by Coconut Point Ford. More details and information related to the event, seating and ticketing will be issued at a later date.
Midnight Madness began in 1971 by then-Maryland coach Lefty Driesell, who started the tradition with a team workout at 12:03 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 15 – which was then the first official day teams could commence practice for the season. Since then, the midnight start has morphed into a pep rally rather than an actual practice, including an emcee, music, dancing, competitions and giveaways for fans in attendance.
The event will lead into ESPN’s return trip to SWFL for “Breakfast at the Beach,” FGCU’s home opener which is part of ESPN’s 24-Hour Tipoff Marathon. The game versus Hartford will air live on ESPN2 at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12, and the Sweet 16 banner will be unveiled. Tickets are selling quickly and can be reserved by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.
For up-to-the-minute information and behind-the-scenes access to the men’s basketball program, follow @FGCU_MBB on Twitter and Instagram, and “Like” us on Facebook at /FGCUMBB.
2013-14 men’s basketball season tickets are selling quickly, and only a limited amount remain. New this year are mini-plan packages for all games, with the exception of “Breakfast at the Beach,” and individual-game tickets are now on sale. Fans can reserve their seat(s) by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.