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Cancun Challenge: Notre Dame, UNC and others give hoops fans reason to be thankful this weekend

The 10-team Cancun Challenge offers a slate of a dozen games over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, satisfying any hoops appetite. Let’s dig into the tournament details.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 23 Women’s Notre Dame at Michigan
Notre Dame guard Katlyn Gilbert and the Fighting Irish will look to continue to improve over the course of their three games in Cancun.
Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Thanksgiving Day, one is supposed to express gratitude.

However, when you turn on women’s college basketball before and after chowing down, you might instead experience jealousy. The 15th Cancun Challenge not only features some tantalizingly talented teams but also the all-too-tempting sight of clear, sunny skies and white, sandy beaches.

Who needs an awkward and overlong family gathering?

The tournament, which begins Thursday and continues through Saturday, is organized as the four-team Mayan Tournament, which includes Notre Dame, Florida Gulf Coast, South Dakota State and South Florida, and the six-team Riviera Tournament, featuring Creighton, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Temple and West Virginia.

Find the schedule below. But first, here’s at least one reason each of the competing teams should inspire gratitude.

Notre Dame

Of course, we gotta be grateful for the great Muffet McGraw, especially the opportunity to watch the legendary leader attempt to shape an almost totally new squad into another juggernaut.

Florida Gulf Coast

Give thanks for Keri Jewett-Giles! After she considered not returning for her redshirt senior season, the Fort Myers native is notching career milestones as she again captains the best team in the ASUN.

South Dakota State

Don’t expect the Jacks to just be happy to play in the sun instead of snow. Three-straight wins, in combination with a consistent willingness to challenge seemingly-stronger non-conference foes, suggests they will be ready to compete - a holiday treat for hoops fans.

South Florida

The 21st-ranked Bulls channeled the confidence to their most famous alum - self-proclaimed Connecticut Sun “ walking bucket” Courtney Williams - to take down the then 15th-ranked Texas Longhorns. Let’s hope they bring that same swag to the court in Cancun!

Creighton

Be thankful for Big East Player of the Week Jaylyn Agnew! The senior forward dropped 25 points in back-to-back games, converting 50% of her field goals and over 40% of her threes. Can she go for 50-40-90 in Cancun?

Missouri

Mizzou certainly is grateful for Nadia Green and her growing game. On Sunday, Green, a junior guard from Chicago, scored eight of the Tigers first 12 points, spurring her sputtering squad, which had suffered four-straight defeats, to a needed-win over Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

North Carolina

Carolina faithful must be thankful for new head coach Courtney Banghart, ACC Freshman of the Week Malu Tshitenge, and the Tar Heels’ undefeated start to the season.

New Mexico

The Lobos also are filled with gratitude for an undefeated start to the season. The sweet stroke of sharpshooting sophomore Ahlise Hurst, who has led New Mexico in scoring, likewise should encourage appreciation.

Temple

To the delight of Temple fans, junior forward Mia Davis is a double-double machine. Averaging more than 21 points and 9 rebounds, she has registered double-digits in both statistical categories four times in the Owl’s first six games.

West Virginia

WNBA prospect Tynice Martin, who missed two of the Mountaineers’ first four games due to an at-first indefinite suspension for a domestic incident, should be thankful to take the court and kickstart a hopefully-successful senior season in Cancun.


Cancun Challenge Schedule

Day 1 — Thursday, Nov. 28

  • South Dakota State vs. South Florida, 11 a.m. ET (FloHoops)
  • Florida Gulf Coast vs. Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m. ET (FloHoops)
  • Missouri vs. New Mexico, 4 p.m. ET (FloHoops)
  • West Virginia vs. Creighton, 6:30 p.m. ET (FloHoops)
  • Temple vs. North Carolina, 9 p.m. ET (FloHoops)

Day 2 — Friday, Nov. 29

  • Notre Dame vs. South Dakota State, 11 a.m. ET (FloHoops)
  • South Florida vs. Florida Gulf Coast, 1:30 p.m. ET (FloHoops)
  • New Mexico vs. West Virginia, 4 p.m. ET (FloHoops)
  • North Carolina vs. Missouri, 6:30 p.m. ET (FloHoops)
  • Creighton vs. Temple, 9 p.m. ET (FloHoops)

Day 3 — Saturday, Nov. 30

  • South Florida vs. Notre Dame, 11 a.m. ET (FloHoops)
  • South Dakota State vs. Florida Gulf Coast, 1:30 p.m. ET (FloHoops)