Cancun Challenge

Maryland headlines field for 2015 Cancun Challenge

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Another in-season tournament for the 2015-16 season has finalized its field, as the eight teams that will participate in the Cancun Challenge were announced Wednesday. Leading the way is Maryland, a team seen by many as the early favorites to win the Big Ten.

Head coach Mark Turgeon welcomes back key contributors such as guard Melo Trimble and forward Jake Layman, and he’ll also add both size and skill in the front court with the arrival of Diamond Stone and Georgia Tech transfer Robert Carter Jr. being eligible after sitting out last season. Maryland, which is also the only team in the field to make the NCAA tournament last season, is joined in the Riviera Division by Illinois State, Rhode Island and TCU.

Maryland will face Illinois State in one of the Riviera Division semifinals November 24, with TCU and Rhode Island meeting in the other semifinal. The championship and third-place games will be played the following day.

Of those three expectations are highest for Dan Hurley’s Rhode Island squad, which won 23 games and played in the Postseason NIT last season. Rising juniors E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin return, as does rising sophomore Jared Terrell, and the Rams have some solid additions joining the rotation as well.

Illinois State just missed out on the NCAA tournament, losing to Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament title game, and TCU looks to account for the loss of point guard Kyan Anderson. Each of the four teams in the Riviera Division will play two home games against squads in the Mayan Division: Cleveland State, Houston Baptist, Rider and South Dakota State.

South Dakota State, which reached the Summit League title game last season, faces Houston Baptist in one Mayan Division semi with Cleveland State and Rider meeting in the other November 24 in Cancun.

Below is the complete schedule of games, with those being played in Cancun (November 24 & 25) in italics.

Nov. 19 – Houston Baptist at TCU; South Dakota State at Illinois State
Nov. 20 – Rider at Maryland
Nov. 21 – Cleveland State at Rhode Island
Nov. 24 – Mayan Division: South Dakota State vs. Houston Baptist; Rider vs. Cleveland State
Nov. 24 – Riviera Division: TCU vs. Rhode Island; Illinois State vs. Maryland
Nov. 25 – Mayan Division: Third-place and Championship games
Nov. 25 – Riviera Division: Third-place and Championship games
Nov. 28 – Cleveland State at Maryland
Nov. 29 – Rider at Rhode Island

Schedule pairings announced for 2012 Cancun Challenge

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Pairings for the 2012 Cancun Challenge have been announced with the tournament set to run from Nov. 13-21, both here in the United States and culminating in Cancun, Mexico.

The three most notable schools taking part are Iowa, DePaul, and Wichita State, with those schools competing alongside Austin Peay, Western Kentucky, Gardner-Webb, Howard, and Western Carolina.

The games get interesting once the tournament moves to Cancun, when DePaul tips off against Wichita State, and Iowa takes on Western Kentucky.

Iowa, coming off an NIT berth this past season, loses leading scorer Matt Gatens, but has a very strong recruiting class coming in to fill the gaps.

Center Adam Woodbury and guard Mike Gesell lead the group, along with Patrick Ingram, Kyle Meyer, and Anthony Clemens.

Both Woodbury and Gesell are Top 100 prospects.

As for DePaul, the Blue Demons come off an injury-plagued 12-19 season, including 3-15 in the Big East.

Swingman Cleveland Melvin will again be the centerpiece after averaging 17.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in 2011-12.

Illinois won the 2011 Cancun Challenge. Additionally, Missouri won in 2010, Kentucky in 2009, and Vanderbilt in 2008.

For the full schedule of games, click here.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_