The Gators are making their first appearance in the 11-year-old AdvoCare Invitational, thankful for a nearby venue while construction on the Stephen J. O’Connell Center is completed this fall. Head coach Mike White led the team to a 21-15 record and the quarterfinals of the NIT in his first season. Sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen is the top returning scorer at 11.6 ppg. The roster features several players from the Orlando area, including senior guard Kasey Hill (Umatilla, Fla.) who averaged 9.1 ppg.
The Bulldogs are looking for their third AdvoCare Invitational title in as many visits to the Orlando event, winning in 2008 and 2012. Gonzaga has dominated the tourney, winning all six of its games by at least eight points, four by double figures. Head coach Mark Few led the team to a 28-8 record and Sweet 16 berth last season. Seven-foot-one center Prezmek Karnowski started only five games last season (8.8 ppg) but should be a factor in 2016-17.
The Sycamores made a splash at the 2011 tournament, knocking off Texas Tech and Fairfield and losing a close game to Minnesota. In the Fairfield game, guard Jake Odum produced the only triple double in event history (10 pts, 10 reb, 12 ast). Seventh year head coach Greg Lansing has 10 returning players including all-Missouri Valley guard Brenton Scott (14.6 ppg). Best known for the 1979 NCAA runner-up squad led by Larry Bird, ISU has made four NCAA tourney appearances at the Division I level.
The Cyclones will play in the state of Florida for the first time since the NCAA Southeast Regional in March 1995, when they beat Florida then lost to North Carolina. Iowa State reached the NCAA Sweet 16 last season, winning 20 or more games for a school record fifth straight season. The Cyclones have beaten 22 nationally ranked opponents over the last three years. Senior point guard Monte Morris ranked third in the nation with 6.8 assists per game last season.
The Bobcats will begin their fourth season in the MAAC, the sponsoring conference of the AdvoCare Invitational. Located in Hamden, Conn., Quinnipiac last played a game in Florida on Dec. 29, 1999 at Miami. Coach Tom Moore enters his 10th season at Quinnipiac having won 20 or more games three times, most recently a 20-12 mark in 2013-14. The Bobcats three top post players return from last season in senior Donovan Smith, junior Chaise Daniels and sophomore Abdulai Bundu, as well as leading three-point shooter senior Daniel Harris (who is from Tampa, Fla.).
The Pirates make their first appearance in the AdvoCare Invitational, though head coach Kevin Willard brought Iona to Orlando in 2009 (1-2 with a win over Creighton). Seton Hall knocked off eventual national champion Villanova to win the BIG EAST Tournament last season, earning its first NCAA berth since 2006. Four starters return led by guard Khadeen Carrington (14.1 ppg). Seton Hall also welcomes top 100 recruit Myles Powell this season.
The Cardinal will play in the state of Florida for the first time since the Red Lobster Classic in November 1990 in Orlando. An NCAA Sweet 16 team in 2014, Stanford won the NIT the following season before settling on a 15-15 mark last year. The Cardinal returns nearly its entire roster from last season, including four starters and three double digit scorers led by Reid Travis (12.8 ppg). The team has a new head coach in Jerod Haase, who won 80 games over the last four years at UAB.
The Hurricanes are playing in their first AdvoCare Invitational, though coach Jim Larranaga guided George Mason to a 2-1 record in the 2007 event. Miami hopes to become the 4th ACC team to win the tourney after Notre Dame (2010), Florida State (2009) and N.C. State (2007). The Canes reached the NCAA Sweet 16 last season before losing to eventual champion Villanova. A pair of double-digit scorers return from that team in Davon Reed (11.1 ppg) and Ja’Quan Newton (10.5 ppg).
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