Duke, Michigan State and UNC may make the PK80 the best in-season tourney ever
Here's a breakdown of the loaded field, held to celebrate Phil Knight's 80th birthday
Perhaps the most loaded regular-season event in college basketball history now has set its matchups.
The PK80, a 16-team, two-bracket, dual college basketball tournament extravaganza that will be held in November (in honor of Nike founder Phil Knight's 80th birthday), released its fields on Wednesday. The tie-in: Every team involved has a business relationship with Nike. Because there are 16 teams and conference overlap -- and teams from the same conference don't face each other outside of sanctioned league play -- there are concurring brackets going down, meaning there will be two champions.
The event will take place from Nov. 23-26, the week of Thanksgiving, in Portland, Oregon.
The teams involved include some of the biggest programs in college hoops: Arkansas, Butler, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Portland, Portland State, Stanford and Texas.
Here are the two brackets, named "Victory" and "Motion."
The games will be held at the Moda Center (home of the Portland Trail Blazers) and Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where the Blazers used to play.
Knight turns 80 on Feb. 24, 2018. This is only scheduled to be a one-time deal, but if it winds up being a massive success, then who knows? The matchups are great, though. A quick thought on each of the quarterfinal clashes.
North Carolina vs. Portland: The reigning national champs bring back Joel Berry II, Theo Pinson and Luke Maye. The Heels of 2017-18 won't have near as much depth as last year's team, but they're still undoubtedly a top-25 team.
Arkansas vs. Oklahoma: The Hogs are a top-five team in the SEC, while Oklahoma will be much improved from last season thanks in some part to a fun point guard in Trae Young, who could be one of the best freshman shooters in college hoops.
Georgetown vs. Michigan State: The Spartans are the best team in the field, led by a quartet of sophomores who will give Tom Izzo a good chance at landing a No. 1 seed down the road. Georgetown will be in the infant stages of the Patrick Ewing era. Ewing was named Hoyas coach on April 3.
UConn vs. Oregon: Oregon is in a rebuild mode because it loses Jordan Bell, Tyler Dorsey and Dillon Brooks to early NBA Draft entry. Some mystery with the Ducks. UConn was brutal last season, in part because of injuries. The Huskies will be better. In fact, they might be better than Oregon.
Duke vs. Portland State: Duke will be young but certainly not completely anonymous. Grayson Allen is back, and Trevon Duval will probably be the best freshman point guard in the sport. Blue Devils will be even more freshman-reliant than the 2014-15 team that won the title with Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor.
Butler vs. Texas: Butler ranks as a preseason top 25 team, while Texas will have Mo Bamba -- who could be a top-three pick in the 2018 Draft. In fact, Bamba might become the best defensive player in college next season.
Florida vs. Stanford: Florida might well be the best team in the SEC. We'll see. Remember, the Gators reached the Elite Eight in March. Stanford's personnel isn't well-known at this point, but the Cardinal will be a top-seven team in the Pac-12 next season. Reid Travis is back for a final season.
Gonzaga-Ohio State: The Zags are a top-25 team coming off a national title game appearance, while Ohio State has a lot of question marks. But Thad Matta has only had one season in his career when he didn't win at least 20 games -- and it came in 2016-17. Buckeyes could be in for a sleeper of a rebound year.
OK! I wasn't even planning on doing this originally, but we've got 16 teams, two brackets and I just can't help myself.
In the Victory bracket: UNC gets by Oklahoma to make the title game in the top of the bracket, while Michigan State rolls to face UNC after getting past Georgetown and UConn. Michigan State wins that half of the event.
In the Motion bracket: Butler squeaks by a solid Texas team, then beats Duke in a close one to reach the title game. In the bottom half of the playoff, Florida breaks through by rolling over Stanford and then fending off Gonzaga -- getting revenge for a loss to the Zags in November 2016. Florida winds up winning its bracket.
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