The focus of the college basketball world will be on Portland later this week as 16 teams compete in what some are calling the best holiday tournament ever put together.
Perhaps it’s because the PK80 honoring Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s 80th birthday is essentially two tournaments. There are two loaded eight-team brackets that will eventually crown two champions.
“This is the greatest tourney they’ve ever put together,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “It’s a big, big, big-time deal for our program and our fans.”
The Zags open against Ohio State on Thanksgiving night and could potentially face No. 7 Florida and No. 1 Duke. Here’s a look at the teams in the Motion bracket.
STANDOUT: Junior forward Keita Bates-Diop opened the season with three consecutive double-doubles. The 6-foot-7, 235-pounder leads the Buckeyes in scoring (19.3 ppg) and rebounding (10.0 rpg). Bates-Diop gets it done at both ends (57 percent from field, 45 percent 3-point, 80 percent free throw, team-high seven blocks). He received a medical redshirt after missing the last 18 games of last season with a stress fracture in his left leg.
TEAM: The Buckeyes have rolled to a 4-0 start under first-year coach Chris Holtmann, who was previously at Butler. They’ve scored at least 80 points in every outing. They’re winning by an average of 21 points per game. Senior forward Jae’Sean Tate (15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 65 percent FG) has been outstanding. He’s a two-time honorable mention All-Big Ten selection.
STANDOUT: Wing Egor Koulechov, a graduate transfer from Rice, made 6 of 9 3-pointers and poured in 34 points in Florida’s season-opening win over Gardner-Webb. The 6-5, 205-pounder followed that up with double-doubles against North Florida and New Hampshire. He leads the Gators in scoring (20.3) and rebounding (8.3).
TEAM: Florida is 3-0 and winning by an average of nearly 30 points – and that’s with an unexpectedly tight 70-63 win over New Hampshire in its last contest. The Gators had just three assists in that game. Jalen Hudson, a 6-6 transfer guard from Virginia Tech, scored 26 points against New Hampshire and averages 18. Zag fans will remember guards KeVaughn Allen and Chris Chiozza from last year’s meeting in Orlando, Florida, won by GU. Allen averages 10.7 points and Chiozza 8.7 points and 4.3 assists.
STANDOUT: Gonzaga recruited Reid Travis when he was a prep standout in Minneapolis. Travis is one of the better scorers (21.2) in the country and a good rebounder (6.6). He’s also a three-year team captain. The 6-8, 245-pound forward is a force inside shooting 54 percent and averaging 8.6 free-throw attempts per game.
TEAM: Stanford is 3-2 after getting blown out by North Carolina on Monday to cap a five-game home stand. Michael Humphrey, 6-9 and 245, joins Reed to form an outstanding frontcourt. He averages 12.2 points and 10.6 rebounds.
STANDOUT: Kelan Martin has cooled off after opening the season with two 20-point efforts, but the 6-7, 220-pound senior forward still paces the squad at 15 points, 8.3 rebounds and 34 minutes per game. He’s a two-time All-Big East second-team selection. Nearly half of his field-goal attempts have been 3-pointers.
TEAM: The Bulldogs (3-1), under first-year coach LaVall Jordan, have relied on balanced scoring and a plus-5 turnover margin. The Bulldogs’ lone loss was at Maryland when they shot 27 percent in the second half and were outrebounded 38-24.
STANDOUT: Mohamed Bamba, No. 6 in ESPN’s Top 100, picked Texas over Duke, Kentucky and Michigan. The 6-11 center is an elite rim protector with nine blocks in just 42 minutes. He’s averaging 14 points and nine boards.
TEAM: The Longhorns (3-0) have thumped three overmatched opponents. They’ve held opponents to 32.8-percent shooting and 58.7 points. In his third season, coach Shaka Smart has assembled the talent (four freshmen who were top 100 recruits) to turn around a program that won just 11 games last season.
STANDOUT: Senior guard Grayson Allen is the early frontrunner for player of the year after dropping seven 3-pointers and 37 points on then No. 2 Michigan State at the Champions Classic. He scored just 15 points in Duke’s last two wins.
TEAM: The top-ranked Blue Devils (5-0) have freshman standouts Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter Jr., Trevon Duval and Gary Trent Jr. in the starting lineup. All four were top 10 recruits and Bagley is a potential No. 1 draft pick.
STANDOUT: Bryce Canda, a 6-4 combo guard, has bumped his 10.2 scoring average from last season to 17.5 through four games. He also grabs eight rebounds per game and has made a team-leading 11 3-pointers.
TEAM: The Vikings (4-0) edged Utah State, which gave Gonzaga fits last Saturday. Former Zags reserve center Ryan Edwards contributes 11.3 points and 3.5 minutes in roughly 20 minutes. The Vikings, picked eighth in the Big Sky coaches’ preseason poll, are averaging 92 points per game.
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