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Three top 25 ranked women’s teams will open their 2020-2021 seasons in the Beach Bubble at the Gulf Coast Showcase, with No. 12 Maryland, No. 14 Arkansas and 24th ranked Missouri State among six schools competing in the Nov. 27-29 tournament in Fort Myers, Florida.
Each team will play three games in three days as part of the holiday tournament, which includes headline matchups between Maryland and Missouri State on Nov. 28 and Maryland and Arkansas on the 29th. All games from the women's Beach Bubble will be streamed exclusively on FloHoops.
Here’s a look at each school competing in Fort Myers:
No. 12 Maryland
Opponents: Davidson (Nov. 27), No. 24 Missouri State (Nov. 28), No. 14 Arkansas (Nov. 29)
2019-2020 Record: 28-4, Big Ten champions
2020-2021 Outlook: The Terps have big shoes to fill after losing five of their top six scorers to either graduation or transfer. Fortunately, Maryland has reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Ashley Owusu as their go-to playmaker, plus key transfers in guard Katie Benzan (Harvard) and forward Chloe Bibby (Mississippi State).
Key Player: Owusu, who averaged 12 points and a team-leading 5.4 assists as a rookie last year. The guard won the Big Ten Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award after averaging 15 points in three games.
No. 14 Arkansas
Opponents: Wake Forest (No. 27), Florida Gulf Coast (Nov. 28), No. 12 Maryland (Nov. 29)
2019-2020 Record: 24-8, Third in SEC
2020-2021 Outlook: The Lady Razorbacks enter 2020-2021 with their best preseason ranking in a quarter century coming off a 24-8 that marked their highest win total in eight seasons. Arkansas returns four of their five starters from last year, including top scorer and preseason All-SEC guard Chelsea Dungee (16.9 points). The Hogs add one of the top transfers in the country in former Oregon State star Destiny Slocum, the national freshman of the year in 2017 and back to back All-PAC 12 honoree.
Key Player(s): Dungee and Slocum could prove to be one of the best guard tandems in the nation. With Dungee’s ability to get to the line and the deep threat from Slocum, Arkansas will give opponents defensive headaches on most nights.
No. 24 Missouri State
Opponents: Florida Gulf Coast (Nov. 27), No. 12 Maryland (Nov. 28), Wake Forest (Nov. 29)
2019-2020 Record: 26-4, Missouri Valley conference champions
2020-2021 Outlook: The Lady Bears thrived in coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton’s first year at Missouri State to the tune of a 26-4 record and a No. 19 ranking at season’s end. MSU once again has high expectations despite the graduation of leading scorer and sharpshooter Alexa Willard, as Valley Defensive Player of the Year Brice Calip, the team’s point guard, returns to set the tone for this experienced group.
Key Player: Calip runs an offense that averaged over 77 points per game last year. Willard will be missed, but forward Jasmine Franklin’s scoring, as well as Calip’s, should go up significantly now that they are the first options.
Florida Gulf Coast
Opponents: No. 24 Missouri State (Nov. 27), No. 14 Arkansas (Nov. 28), Davidson (Nov. 29)
2019-2020 Record: 30-3, Atlantic Sun champions
2020-2021 Outlook: FGCU turned in their fourth 30 win season in their last six campaigns a year ago, and the Lady Eagles will have an early shot to prove they’re still at that level despite losing their entire starting lineup by facing Missouri State and Arkansas in Fort Myers. That’s unlikely, however, as their top returning scorer, Tyra Cox, averaged just 2.3 points per game last season.
Key Player: Bowling Green transfer Andrea Cecil is a prolific shooter who likely will be the focal point of this team’s offense. Cecil averaged more than 15 points at BGSU before sitting out last season with an injury.
Opponents: No. 14 Arkansas (Nov. 27), Davidson (Nov. 28), Missouri State (Nov. 29)
2019-2020 Record: 16-16, 11th in ACC
2020-2021 Outlook: The Demon Deacons return two double-digit scorers from last season, including preseason All-ACC forward Ivana Raca. Raca poured in 17.2 points per contest last year, a number that should go up as she plays her fourth season with the team’s strong point guard, Gina Conti.
Key Player: Raca, a senior from Serbia, has seen big jumps in her stats each of the last two seasons. Another leap could see her in the running for ACC Player of the Year.
Opponents: No. 12 Maryland (Nov. 27), Wake Forest (Nov. 28), Florida Gulf Coast (Nov. 29)
2019-2020 Record: 16-15, Seventh in A-10
2020-2021 Outlook: Atlantic-10 Freshman of the Year Suzi-Rose Deegan will run the show for Davidson after averaging nearly 16 points per game last season. The Aussie is a fantastic rebounder as well as scorer who could see her numbers explode this season if her 32-percent three-point clip can improve.
Key Player(s): Deegan and senior Katie Turner both averaged over 30 minutes per game last year, and their connection will be critical for the Wildcats’ as they seek to rise out of mediocrity. Turner led the team with 127 assists last season.