It’s that time of year again: Basketball lovers can plan their Thanksgiving holiday around the 2016 GCI Great Alaska Shootout, which hosts 10 visiting teams in what is called the oldest continually running in-season basketball tournament in the nation. This is the 39th annual event and the second year in its new location, the Alaska Airlines Center on the University of Anchorage campus.
There will be “top-10 ranked teams on both the men’s and women’s side, and this is expected to be one of most competitive overall tourneys ever, with several evenly matched teams,” said UAA athletics spokesman Nathan Sagan. The Shootout features an eight-team men’s field and four-team women’s field, including such powerhouses as defending Missouri Valley Conference Tournament champions Missouri State on the women’s side, and two-time defending Mid-American Conference Tournament champions Buffalo, as well as defending Big Sky Conference Champion Weber State, in the men’s bracket.
The women open the action on Nov. 22 with Missouri State against Pac-12 Conference foe Southern California, followed by defending NCAA Division II national runner-up Alaska Anchorage against Portland.
On the men’s side, Alaska Anchorage will meet up against Buffalo, while Oakland will face Nevada in Nov. 23’s opening-round games. Thanksgiving evening, Nov. 24, will feature UC Davis against Weber State, and Drake against defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament champ Iona.
“CBS Sports is returning for the fifth straight year,” Sagan added, with seven men’s games on the slate, starting with host Alaska Anchorage vs. Buffalo on Nov. 23. Additionally, tournament sponsor and Alaska cable company GCI will televise the other nine contests live statewide, while the UAA-Buffalo contest will be shown on both CBSSN nationwide and GCI statewide.
“The 2016 GCI Great Alaska Shootout will continue its recent tradition of featuring the best mid-major programs in college basketball,” said UAA athletic director Keith Hackett. “With recent champions such as Butler, San Diego State, Murray State and Middle Tennessee, the Shootout has proven to be a launching pad for future success. We can’t wait to see who emerges this year.”
Overall, this year’s fields feature a combined five NCAA Tournament qualifiers (UAA and Missouri State women; Buffalo, Iona and Weber State men) and two other postseason qualifiers (Oakland and CBI champion Nevada). Eight of the 12 squads won at least 20 games in 2015-16, including an NCAA DII-record 38 wins by the UAA women, while the men’s field averaged 19.2 victories, according to a UAA Athletics press release. For ticket packages and prices, call 786-7811.
2016 GCI GREAT ALASKA SHOOTOUT
Tuesday, Nov. 22 – First Round
5:30 p.m.: Missouri State vs. Southern California (GCI)
7:30 p.m.: Portland vs. Alaska Anchorage (GCI)
Wednesday, Nov. 23
2 p.m.: Third Place: MSU/USC loser vs. UP/UAA loser (GCI)
4:30 p.m.: Championship: MSU/USC winner vs. UP/UAA winner (GCI)
Wednesday, Nov. 23 – First Round
7 p.m.: Buffalo vs. Alaska Anchorage (CBSSN/GCI)
9:30 p.m.: Oakland vs. Nevada (CBSSN)
Thursday, Nov. 24 – First Round
5:30 p.m.: Drake vs. Iona (CBSSN)
8 p.m.: UC Davis vs. Weber State (CBSSN)
Friday, Nov. 25 – Consolation Semis and Semifinals
Noon: Buffalo/UAA loser vs. Oakland/Nevada loser (GCI)
2 p.m.: Drake/Iona loser vs. UCD/Weber loser (GCI)
5:30 p.m.: Buffalo/UAA winner vs. Oakland/Nevada winner (CBSSN)
8 p.m.: Drake/Iona winner vs. UCD/Weber winner (CBSSN)
Saturday, Nov. 26
Noon: Seventh/Eighth Place: Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser (GCI)
2 p.m.: Fourth/Sixth Place: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner (GCI)
5:30 p.m.: Third/Fifth Place: Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser (GCI)
8:30 p.m.: Championship: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner (CBSSN)