Fort Myers Tip-Off a slam dunk for college basketball fans

It is a big week for basketball in Southwest Florida. Eight teams from across the country are here for the Fort Myers Tip-Off.

The event began on Monday with Ohio State playing Seton Hall. Cal faced off against the Florida Gators on Monday night.

There was a ton of passion from the fans in attendance. A lot of O-H-I-O chants and gator chomps.

Last year only a small number of fans got in, but Monday saw a packed house.

Fans were pumped to cheer on their favorite team right here at home. The roar of the buckeye faithful echoed inside the Suncoast Credit Union Arena.

Among those die-hard Ohio State fans were Tye and Zane McCarty-Fisher from Marco Island. “We’ve watched them probably our whole lives and to finally see them it’s just a dream come true,” said Zane.

This was their first time seeing Ohio State play in person.

Tye said, “I’ve really wanted to see them play for so long to finally have them right near our own home is just incredible.”

They were not alone. The Buckeyes were well represented in the first game of the Fort Myers Tip-Off against Seton Hall.

Dale Lybarger from Punta Gorda, “to drive a half an hour to watch the bucks, that’s a big deal.”

The twenty-third ranked Florida Gators headlined the second game on Monday in its match-up with Cal. And no surprise, Gator nation showed up in Southwest Florida.

Cameron Heaston traveled from Gainesville. “I have a little bit of Gainesville down here with me.”

As did Jim Horner. “It shows that the gators and the University of Florida are committed across the state. To have them down here, I think is a tribute to Southwest Florida as well.”

No matter who you root for, the big winner is Southwest Florida.

“This area is just booming and there’s so much activity down here it’s good that it…gets more national attention,” said Chris Barron, who traveled from Orlando to watch the games.

Lybarger said, “no matter where they are you know you know there’s going to be 50,000 of us coming and we spend bucks.”

This is the second year in a row the Fort Myers Tip-off features two ranked teams in Seton Hall and Florida.

Another set of four teams will play on Tuesday.

Then the teams in action on Monday will close out this eight-team tip-off on Wednesday.

Reporter:Zach Oliveri
Writer:Matthew Seaver
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