Monday, August 20, 2012

Nike-Sponsored Squads Set For Elite Event in 2017

Nike-sponsored schools will square off in a two-tournament event featuring college basketball's elite in 2017 (

It's not too early to look ahead to the 2012 college basketball season, which is three months away. But how about looking ahead to 2017?

Thanks to Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis, the best early-season college basketball tournament won't take place in Maui or Madison Square Garden. This tournament will take place in Portland, and the star power represented by the schools is fitting given the star power of the sponsor they are celebrating. 

According to Andy Katz of ESPN, Hollis was able to receive commitments from 16 Nike-sponsored programs to play in a two-tournament event held over four days in November 2017. This is in celebration of Nike co-founder Phil Knight's 80th birthday, which is the following February.

The premise itself is enticing having teams sponsored by the same company compete against one another but it's the programs represented that will make college hoops fans' mouths water. 

The tournament will include a mix of blue bloods (Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Michigan St.), as well as power-conference representatives (Florida, Ohio St., UCONN, Georgetown, Texas, Oklahoma, Stanford and Oregon), and some choice mid-majors (Xavier, Butler, Gonzaga and Portland).

Let that sink in for a moment. No matter the combination of seedings, elite programs will have a hard road to win these two tournaments. Unlike other early-season tournaments, there is no Chaminade in the quarterfinals. Even the "mid-majors" are no one to mess with. This event is loaded from top to bottom.

That's what fans want to see. Why else would this event even be a topic of conversation five years early if it wasn't big? The third game of the year against Towson isn't circled on any calendars. If you think your team is better than Duke, and the team doesn't play in the ACC, then you're excited to play the Blue Devils and find out if you're right. 

This not only is a win for fans and for the teams this should help boost the RPI at the end of the year but imagine what this does for Nike. It's hard to say which is more impressive:  that Nike sponsors all of these teams or that, when Hollis came calling with the idea, everyone said yes. The king of sports apparel and marketing will have its name on the biggest regular-season basketball event of the year, maybe even the decade, while every player on the court wears its equipment. 

The only downside is this won't take place for another five years. It's unlikely these teams will plummet to mediocrity during the waiting period, so if this upcoming season is any indication, college hoops fans are in for a treat in 2017.

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