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Nike-sponsored schools to meet in 2017 tourney

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Michigan State's Mark Hollis has come up with his next big idea.

The athletic director who put basketball and hockey games on the 50-yard line of a football field and a hoops matchup on an aircraft carrier expects 24 Nike-backed basketball teams to be in two tournaments in November 2017 that will celebrate Phil Knight. Nike's billionaire co-founder turns 80 during that season, on Feb. 24, 2018.

"Phil and Nike have done a lot to support a lot of programs," Hollis said. "I think it's going to be great for basketball."

The tournament might set up a Final Four preview.

Hollis said he and athletic directors at Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Ohio State, Connecticut, Georgetown, Oklahoma, Texas, Oregon, Stanford, Butler, Xavier, Gonzaga and Portland have agreed to participate

He's contacting eight more to be involved with the three-game format that will have some schools hosting a game before playing two more matchups in Portland, Ore., near Nike headquarters.

Hollis is now working on funding for the event, which was first reported by ESPN.com.

"This has evolved from conversations we had about strength of schedules at an NCAA Division men's basketball committee meeting in June," he said. "We thought it would be cool if high-caliber teams with a common connection - Nike in this case - could play each other. Every athletic director I reached out to was very enthusiastic about it."

"It's going to be good for basketball and Nike has done a lot to support a lot of programs," Hollis said.

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/larrylage

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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