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Catamount Basketball to Play in 2018 Cancun Challenge

June 11, 2018

2018 Cancun Challenge Bracket Get Acrobat Reader

Cullowhee, N.C. - Los Catamounts van a jugar al básquetbol en Cancún, México!

As Western Carolina's 2018-19 men's basketball schedule for first-year head coach Mark Prosser continues to take shape, some of the tumblers fell into place on Monday afternoon as Triple Crown Sports out of Fort Collins, Colo., announced the teams and schedule for the 2018 Men's Cancun Challenge that includes the Catamounts.

The eight-team field for the popular Thanksgiving Week event to be held at the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya includes two divisions -- the Riviera Division and the Mayan Division. WCU out of the Southern Conference is in the latter grouping with Jacksonville State (OVC), North Florida (A-Sun) and Southern Miss (Conference USA); the Riviera Division features Bradley (Missouri Valley), SMU (American Athletic), Penn State (Big Ten) and Wright State (Horizon League).

The Cancun Challenge begins with games played at host sites in the US as teams in the Riviera Division play host to teams in the Mayan Division between Nov. 7-17. Divisional match-ups will take place in Cancun Nov. 20-21 in the modified ballroom at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya; teams and their fans are in walking distance from their rooms to the games to the restaurants to poolside.

Each game between Mayan Division teams is slated to be streamed online through the CBS Sports Digital platform (cable or satellite subscription required) while Riviera Division games each day in Cancun will be televised by CBS Sports Network.

Western Carolina has road games at Wright State (Nov. 7) and SMU (Nov. 14) as a part of the tournament arrangement before heading south to Mexico. The Catamounts are slated to pull the curtain back on the games in Cancun, facing Jacksonville State at 12:30 pm EST on Tuesday, Nov. 20. The winner will face the winner of the North Florida / Southern Miss game for the divisional championship at 3:00 pm EST on Wednesday, Nov. 21 while the losers of the two games will meet at 12:30 pm on Wednesday.

The remainder of the 2018-19 Catamount men's basketball schedule will be released later.

This marks the 11th edition of the men's event. The Cancun Challenge continues to be one of the most sought-after destinations for a pre-conference tournament; last year's champion was Louisiana Tech, and previous champions include Purdue (2016), Maryland (2015), Northern Iowa (2014) and Wisconsin (2013).

"With a decade in the books, the Men's Cancun Challenge comes up in conversation very quickly when people in the game talk about an ideal tournament," said event director Brent Amick. "Our relationship with the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya means fans who travel in get the best in food and entertainment options; meanwhile, the teams can move around easily in the gated, secure setting and get their work done on the floor while also getting some time in the sun."

Western Carolina makes its second appearance in the Caribbean holiday week hoops tournament, finishing third in the Mayan Division back in 2012. The Catamounts came up a point short in the opener in Cancun, falling to Austin Peay, 72-71, before rallying from a 10-point second half deficit to edge Howard, 69-67, on a pair of Tom Tankelewicz free throws in the closing seconds to take third place.

Here's the full schedule for the 2018 Men's Cancun Challenge:

U.S. Games
Wednesday, Nov. 7
Western Carolina at Wright State
Friday, Nov. 9
North Florida at Penn State
Sunday, Nov. 11
Southern Miss at SMU
Monday, Nov. 12
Jacksonville State at Penn State
Wednesday, Nov. 14
Western Carolina at SMU
Jacksonville State at Bradley
Saturday, Nov. 17
North Florida at Wright State

Cancun Challenge at Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya (all times Cancun/Eastern Time)
Tuesday, Nov. 20
Mayan Division
Game 1: Western Carolina vs. Jacksonville State, 12:30 p.m.
Game 2: North Florida vs. Southern Miss, 3 p.m.
Riviera Division
Game 3: Bradley vs. SMU, 6 p.m.
Game 4: Wright State vs. Penn State, 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 21
Mayan Division
Game 1 / Game 2 losers, 12:30 p.m.
Game 1 / Game 2 winners, 3 p.m.
Riviera Division
Game 3 / Game 4 losers. 6 p.m.
Game 3 / Game 4 winners, 8:30 p.m.

More about the Cancun Challenge
Located just off the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea, the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya offers the ultimate vacation for guests of all ages with both the adults-only and family-friendly resort experiences. With a combined 1,264 ultra-posh and lavishly appointed guestrooms boasting balcony, terrace views or new, expansive sky terrace options with picturesque views, hydro tubs in each room, world-class shopping and endless style, Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya is nothing short of the ultimate crowd-pleaser. Complete with expansive outdoor pools and private beach, this all-inclusive escape offers nine world-class restaurants, eight bars and lounges, in addition to 88,915 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting and event space ideal for elegant banquets, themed parties, weddings, concerts, and more.

Seating is limited for this exclusive event, and all fans should book land travel packages through Triple Crown Sports for admission into games in Mexico. Travel packages are the only way to guarantee admission to games at this time. For travel package information, contact Sarah Sullivan at 970-672-0533 (email to or visit the website at

About Triple Crown Sports
Based in Fort Collins, CO., Triple Crown Sports has been producing college and youth events for more than 30 years. TCS runs both the preseason and postseason WNIT basketball events and produces the men's and women's Cancun Challenge tournaments in November. Triple Crown is also powering "WNIT" concept events in D-I softball (NISC) and volleyball (NIVC), with those two events debuting in 2017. TCS youth fastpitch tournaments (including the 900-team Sparkler/Fireworks event) draw the nation's finest club programs, and hundreds of college coaches attend TCS events for recruiting purposes.