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Gonzaga will face Ohio State in Phil Knight Invitational opener

Gonzaga will open against Ohio State in the Phil Knight Invitational, a high-powered, college basketball tournament in November in Portland.

The 16-team event, also known as the PK80, honors the Nike co-founder who turns 80 on Feb. 24, 2018. It features 10 programs that have won a combined 24 national championships, including North Carolina, which edged Gonzaga for the title in April.

Three of the 2017 Final Four – GU, North Carolina and Oregon – are in the field as well as traditional powers Duke, Michigan State and UConn.

The Zags and Buckeyes have only met once. Seventh-seeded Ohio State beat No. 7 Gonzaga 73-66 in the 2012 NCAA Tournament round-of-32 in Pittsburgh and the Buckeyes eventually reached the Final Four.

Ohio State finished 17-15 last season and didn’t advance to the post season. The Buckeyes return Jae’Sean Tate, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound senior forward who avearged a team-high 14.3 points and 6.4 rebounds, but they lost their second, third and fourth leading scorers.

Center Trevor Thompson (10.6 points, 9.2 rebounds) declared for the NBA Draft after his junior season. Guard Kam Williams (9.4 points withdrew his name from the draft and will return for his senior season. Senior forward Keita Bates-Diop (9.7 points, 5.2 rebounds) also returns.

The Buckeyes played in the NCAA Tournament 9 of 10 years between 2006 and 2015. They lost to Florida in the 2007 national championship and fell to Kansas in the 2012 Final Four.

The Gonzaga-Ohio State winner will face the Florida-Stanford winner. Duke-Portland State and Butler-Texas comprise the other half of the “Motion” bracket.

Gonzaga defeated Florida in the AdvoCare Invitational semifinals last season in Orlando.

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There will be two separate eight-team brackets with two champions crowned. Conferences with two representatives (ACC with Duke and North Carolina, WCC with Gonzaga and Portland, Pac-12 with Stanford and Oregon, etc.) have one team in each bracket.

The “Victory” bracket pairings: North Carolina vs. Portland, Arkansas vs. Oklahoma, Georgetown vs. Michigan State, and UConn vs. Oregon.

Ten of the last 14 national champions are in the field. Six of the 16 teams were ranked in the top 19 of the final USA Today, including No. 1 North Carolina, No. 2 Gonzaga and No. 3 Oregon. Michigan State should open the 2018 season ranked in the top five.

The tournaments will run simultaneously at the Moda Center and Veterans Memorial Coliseum on the ESPN family of networks. Every team will play one game in each venue in the first two days.

Games will be played on Thanksgiving (Thursday, Nov. 23), Friday and Sunday.

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