by Asa Brown
When most billionaires turn eighty, they have a large party with lots of food and all their friends.
However, for Phil Knight, the appropriate party for the big 8-0 was to have a two-tournament, two-venue bonanza featuring headliners North Carolina, Oklahoma, Michigan State, Oregon, Duke, Butler, Texas, Gonzaga and Florida.
The two brackets, dubbed the ‘motion bracket’ and the ‘victory bracket’ each came out with a winner. #1 Duke won the motion bracket and #3 Michigan State won the victory.
Overall, the tournament was viewed as a success. It was a great way for Nike to debut new jerseys and shoes. The shoes were are all black and all featured iridescent highlights, meant to contrast with the color of the jerseys, similar to the NBA’s statement jerseys. The tournament also was a showing for the city of Portland, as two of its major event centers were under the national spotlight for 3 days. However, the most notable success was Portland State, a perennial bottom dweller, who had great success in the tournament.
Many of you, especially oblivious ones, may not know that Portland State exists, let alone that it has a basketball team. Well, it does.
Barret Peery, who was hired in April by Portland State had his squad open the stacked tournament against top-ranked Duke in a matchup a few miles from the campus. And, surprising to most, they put on an honourable performance against Duke, who is projected by nbadraft.net to have 5 players drafted in the first round of this year’s NBA draft.
Against Duke, they lead at halftime, and had the whole world thinking, could they pull a Chaminade? Eventually Duke pulled away but it was the first time Portland State had faced a No. 1-ranked team.
Portland State could of easily packed it in for the rest of tournament and gone home and focused on league play. They did not. They took Butler to last shot, losing 69-71. Again it would have been easy to give in. Instead, they forced 28 turnovers and got 22 points and seven rebounds from Deontae North and beat Stanford by a 87-78 after leading by as much as 17 for parts of the game.
Despite a 1-2 record in the tournament, Portland State should be very happy with the way they played. Portland State wins their conference and upsets someone in the NCAA tournament. You heard it here first.