Gonzaga is in a powerhouse field for the Phil Knight Invitational, a 16-team college basketball tournament in Portland over Thanksgiving week in November, 2017, honoring the Nike co-founder and chairman.
Nike-sponsored schools Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, Georgetown, Butler, Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Florida, Arkansas, Oregon, Stanford, Connecticut, Portland and Portland State join GU in the field, according to an ESPN release. Participating schools have won 23 national titles, including nine of the last 13. Thirteen of the schools have made at least one Final Four appearance.
The tournament will feature two eight-team brackets at two venues. Teams from the same conference will be in seperate brackets so they avoid playing each other. Schools are guaranteed three games. Two champions will be crowned.
“This is going to be an awesome event,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “It’s an honor for us at Gonzaga to be part of this tournament and an honor for me to be in it. Nike has been a huge part of my life since I was in the second grade and got my first basketball shoes. It’s cool that this tournament is in the Northwest, and the teams that are in the field are going to make it a first-class event.”
Knight will turn 80 on Feb. 24, 2018. The tournament, also referred to as PK80, is expected to be a one-time event. Knight holds degrees from Oregon and Stanford, the Pac-12 schools selected for the tournament.
“We’ve been fortunate to play in some incredible preseason events, but we’ve never been a part of something this amazing – both in terms of quantity and quality of the teams,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “It’s only fitting to pay tribute to a one-of-a-kind man with a one-of-a-kind event.”
Brackets will be announced at a later date. Games will be played in the Rose Quarter at the Moda Center, home of the Trail Blazers with a seating capacity of nearly 20,000, and Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which seats nearly 13,000. Games from both venues will be televised on ESPN’s family of networks.