Phil Knight's tourney draws top-10 teams to Oregon this week
By DAVE SKRETTA
Nov. 21, 2017
Nike founder Phil Knight is throwing a birthday party and every college basketball fan is invited.
Well, they can at least watch it on TV.
Knight is celebrating his 80th birthday by staging a two-bracket tournament — the PK80 — beginning Thursday in Oregon. It includes some of the sport's heaviest hitters, too, including four schools ranked in the top 10 this week: No. 1 Duke, No. 2 Michigan State, No. 7 Florida and ninth-ranked North Carolina.
No. 17 Gonzaga is also in the field along with Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas, schools that are all receiving votes. There are 16 teams total, eight lined up in each bracket.
"It's a big, big, big-time deal for our program and our fans," said Gonzaga coach Mark Few, whose team opens with Ohio State and could eventually play the Blue Devils in their bracket.
One big question is whether Miles Bridges will play or the Spartans. The star forward is day to day after spraining his ankle in a victory over Stony Brook on Sunday.
"By Tuesday morning I'll know a little bit more," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "Miles is tough enough to play through it, but we're not going to take any chances either. We're going to have to see where it's at."
Knight's tournament in Oregon is certain to grab headlines, but it's hardly the only tournament to be thankful for this week. Here are some of the others:
— The Maui Invitational began Monday with sixth-ranked Wichita State rallying from an 18-point hole to beat California and No. 13 Notre Dame beating host Chaminade. They are back in action Tuesday with a chance to meet for the championship on Wednesday.
— The Battle 4 Atlantis begins in the Bahamas on Tuesday with No. 2 Arizona perhaps on a collision course with fifth-ranked Villanova. No. 18 Purdue, North Carolina State and SMU are also in the field.
— The Hall of Fame Classic will be decided Tuesday night when Creighton plays No. 25 Baylor in the finals. No. 23 UCLA will meet Wisconsin in the third-place matchup.
— The Cayman Islands Classic is highlighted by No. 12 Cincinnati, which plays Richmond in the semifinal Tuesday. The winner gets Louisiana or Wyoming for the title on Wednesday.
— The Legends Classic began with No. 16 Texas A&M routing Oklahoma State and Penn State beating up Pittsburgh in the semifinals Monday. The Aggies and Nittany Lions meet for the title on Tuesday.
— The Advocare Invitational championship rounds begin Thursday with No. 23 West Virginia topping the field. Nebraska, St. John's and Missouri are among the other teams in the mix.
— The NIT Season Tip-Off has some local flavor with No. 20 Seton Hall. Virginia, Vanderbilt and Rhode Island are also in the field with the semifinals Thursday and championship game Friday.
— The Las Vegas Invitational begins Thursday with No. 15 Xavier the star attraction. Kansas State, Arizona State and George Washington are among the teams playing at Orleans Arena.
GAMES ALREADY SET
Yes, there is an "if" element to all of those tournaments, and some upsets along the way could deprive hoops fans of some high-profile showdowns. But there are at least a couple games involving ranked teams this week that are taking place out of tournaments.
No. 25 Alabama is set to face No. 14 Minnesota on Friday night in New York, while Texas A&M heads across the country to Los Angeles to face No. 10 Southern California in a showdown Sunday.
SO LONG, ALASKA: One of the premier tournaments for years was the Great Alaska Shootout, attracting high-profile schools such as Duke, Kentucky, UCLA and Kansas since its inception in 1978. But its shine wore off as tournaments popped up in more exotic — and far warmer — destinations, and the headliners the last few years have been Colorado State, Toledo and Iona.
But if for no better reason than posterity, tune in this week for the final edition hosted by the University of Alaska-Anchorage. Central Michigan, Idaho and Santa Clara top the field.
More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25