2022 Phil Knight Invitational: A Primer – Update Alaba

It’s the last weekend in November, so you know what that means around these parts – college basketball’s premier non-conference event, Feast Week of course! In an annual tradition in college hoops, teams from across the country fly to exotic locations to participate in exciting non-conference tournaments of varying prestige. The 18th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide are no strangers to the phenomenon, having played at numerous Feast Week events over the years — from Hawaii to New York City. This year, Alabama was invited to participate in the PK85 – Phil Knight Invitational.

While there are events with history and tradition—the Maui Invitational, Battle 4 Atlantis and the Preseason NIT come to mind—the Phil Knight Invitational may be the rarest and most unique experience. It started with the PK80 event in 2017 – a PK80 referring to Nike founder and well-known Oregon superfan and booster Phil Knight, who will be 80 years old. It featured arguably the largest field in Feast Week history – North Carolina, Duke, Michigan State, Ohio State, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Gonzaga, UConn, Butler and Depaul joined local schools Oregon, Portland, Portland State and Stanford. for a pair of 8-team tournaments to celebrate the life and success of the Nike legend in Portland, Oregon, which was supposed to be a one-off event.

Now, five years later, they’re running it back (they technically had a showdown in 2019 where Oregon hosted Memphis and Oregon State hosted Oklahoma, but that wasn’t much of an event). The field may not be as historically elite as the PK80, but the PK85 certainly isn’t a dramatic drop. Once again, there will be two separate tournaments, the Phil Knight Invitational and the Phil Knight Legacy, featuring the following teams:

Phil Knight Invitational

  • #1 North Carolina (Kenpom: 18; T-Rank: 11)
  • #12 Michigan State (Kenpom: 24; T-Rank: 24)
  • #18 Alabama (Kenpom: 13; T-Rank: 20)
  • #20 UConn (Kenpom: 20; T-Rank: 37)
  • Villanova (Kenpom: 32; T-Rank: 45)

  • Oregon (Kenpom: 38; T-Rank: 48)
  • Iowa State (Kenpom: 54; T-Rank: 31)

  • Portland (Kenpom: 130; T-Rank: 130)

Phil Knight’s legacy

  • #6 Gonzaga (Kenpom: 3; T-Rank: 2)
  • #8 Duke (Kenpom: 10; T-Rank: 4)
  • #24 Purdue (Kenpom: 27; T-Rank: 30)
  • Florida (Kenpom: 36; T-Rank: 34)
  • Xavier (Kenpom: 34; T-Rank: 29)
  • West Virginia (Kenpom: 39; T-Rank: 21)
  • Oregon State (Kenpom: 242; T-Rank: 278)
  • Portland State (Kenpom: 262; T-Rank: 289)

Both fields are loaded, but Alabama seems to be the tougher of the two, especially when you factor in the tiebreaker. The Tide will open against Sparta and have a potential Michigan State -> UConn -> North Carolina championship path. Talk about a glove. See the full field below:

Alabama opens with the second shortest odds to win the Phil Knight Invitational as it is listed at +420 to win the event this week:

The Philadelphia Inquirer

I have to say, being listed as the second most likely to win this tournament is exciting. But the path will be treacherous. It starts in earnest Thursday night at 9:30pm CST – I hope you all prepared your bodies for these late picks with our inexplicably late starts last week – against a veteran Michigan State club coached by one of the best to ever do it, Tom Izzo. A Spartans team that is as battle-tested as any in college basketball, having already played Gonzaga, Kentucky and Villanova. It will be a big test and it may end and game of the day Either way, it will be really fun to watch how the Tide measures up.

Tomorrow I will have a more detailed article previewing the battle with the Spartans. Until then, I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving wherever they are. After that we regroup to Tide Hoops.


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