Great Alaska Shootout

(Photo Courtesy of Sam Wasson)

The 2017 Great Alaska Shootout will be the event’s last

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The longest running regular season college basketball tournament will no longer hold that title at the end of this year.

The Great Alaska Shootout announced on Thursday that 2017 will be the final year of the event.

“The Shootout has been an iconic event at [University of Alaska Anchorage] for 40 years, but unfortunately we cannot sustain our funding of this tournament in the current budget climate,” UAA chancellor Sam Gingerich said in a statement. “We are grateful for the enthusiastic support we’ve received over the years from our community, fans, volunteers, civic and business leaders and donors.”

Once one of the premier tournaments in college basketball, the Great Alaska Shootout had powerhouse programs such as Kentucky, North Carolina, Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Syracuse, and Louisville, among others, all claiming championships in Anchorage.

There has been an increase in the number early season college basketball tournaments in recent years, one of the most notable being the Battle 4 Atlantis. With a major television deal and located in the Bahamas, the Battle 4 Atlantis has landed some of the top college basketball teams annually since its inception in 2011. Tournaments in Las Vegas and tropical locations have also popped up as of late. Even the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has adapted and expanded its early season presence in college basketball. From 1979 to 2005, Springfield was home to an annual college basketball game that featured some of the top talent in the country. Today, the Hall of Fame sponsors several different tournaments in the northeast, Miami, and Los Angeles.

In an arms race, the Great Alaska Shootout had lost the luster it once had.

The 2017 GCI Great Alaska Shootout will begin on Nov. 21 at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. Cal Poly, College of Charleston, Central Michigan, Sam Houston State, Idaho, Santa Clara, CSU Bakersfield and Alaska Anchorage make up the final field.

8-team GCI Great Alaska Shootout field announced

Benjamin Zack/Standard-Examiner via AP
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Friday afternoon another in-season tournament released its completed bracket for its event, with the GCI Great Alaska Shootout revealing the eight teams that will make the trek to Anchorage in November. The field includes two teams that reached the 2016 NCAA tournament in Iona and Weber State, and another team in Nevada that has the look of a contender in the Mountain West in 2016-17.

Joining those three teams in the GCI Great Alaska Shootout will be hosts Alaska-Anchorage, Buffalo, Oakland, UC Davis and Drake. The Shootout begins Wednesday, November 23, with the championship game scheduled for Saturday, November 26.

The match-ups in the top half of the bracket are Buffalo vs. Alaska-Anchorage and Oakland vs. Nevada, with those games scheduled for Wednesday night. On Thursday, UC Davis will take on Weber State and Iona matches up with Drake in the other quarterfinal contests. Each team will play three games in Anchorage, and there are also three on-campus games as part of the event.

While Buffalo and Oakland will host non-Division I opponents prior to their trip to Anchorage, Nevada will host Iona November 20 in Reno.

Ivy League champion Harvard headlines Great Alaska Shootout field

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With nearly all major contributors from this season’s NCAA tournament team due back (led by Siyani Chambers and Wesley Saunders) and the return of point guard Brandyn Curry and forward Kyle Casey, the Harvard Crimson are the trendy pick in the eyes of many when it comes to the mid-major program that can make some noise in 2013-14.

But with the release of the bracket for the 2013 Carr’s Safeway Great Alaska Shootout on Thursday, the question for Harvard is whether or not their non-conference schedule will give them enough shots at high-caliber opponents.

Tommy Amaker’s team is one of eight in the field, with the event taking a big hit due to Iowa’s decision to instead participate in the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Hawkeyes have generated some conversation on the heels of their Postseason NIT run, with many believing that Fran McCaffery’s team has enough talent to be a factor in the Big Ten race.

A possible shot at Iowa would have been a great opportunity for Harvard. Instead their best possible opponent in Anchorage may very well be quarterfinal opponent Denver, which won a share of the WAC regular season title in 2012-13 and makes the move to the Summit League this summer.

Also in the field is Indiana State, which returns point guard Jake Odum and finished third in the 2012 Diamond Head Classic (beating eventual ACC champion Miami in the third place game).

The full schedule for the Great Alaska Shootout:

Wednesday, Nov. 27 – First Round
Game 1 – Tulsa vs Indiana State
Game 2 – Texas Christian vs Alaska Anchorage

Thursday, Nov. 28 – First Round
Game 3 – Pepperdine vs Green Bay
Game 4 – Denver vs Harvard

Friday, Nov. 29 – Consolation Semifinals & Semifinals
Game 5 – Tulsa/ISU loser vs TCU/UAA loser
Game 6 – Pepp./GB loser vs DU/Harvard loser
Game 7 – Tulsa/ISU winner vs TCU/UAA winner
Game 8 – Pepp./GB winner vs DU/Harvard winner

Saturday, Nov. 30
7th/8th-place – Game 5 loser vs Game 6 loser
4th/6th-place – Game 5 winner vs Game 6 winner
3rd/5th-place – Game 7 loser vs Game 8 loser
Championship – Game 7 winner vs Game 8 winner

With the release of the bracket, what Harvard does with its remaining non-conference openings becomes more important in regards to not only the possibility of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament but also their potential seed.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.