When you're a billionaire shoe magnate, you can celebrate your birthday however you want. Nike honcho Phil Knight could celebrate in beautiful Bermuda, where his company keeps its money for tax purposes, or in Vietnam, where people work in brutal conditions for very little pay to make his shoes.
Instead, Knight has chosen to clap his hands, smile and summon the finest athletic young men to perform for him here in Portland.
Well, most of the finest—Knight can only compel the attendance of the young men who perform while wearing his shoes so that they may obtain a free education, making vast sums of money for other old white guys like him in the process.
Somehow, though, several of the nation's elite Nike college basketball programs successfully excused themselves from the tournament, forcing Knight to fill out the bracket with some locals. In the absence of top-ranked Nike programs like Georgetown, Arizona and Villanova, one Portland team gets to play the defending national champion while the other gets the current No. 1.
Here's how we expect that to go.
Thursday, November 23, at 1:30 pm. Tickets here.
Portland State: Barret Peery, previously an assistant coach of the mighty Santa Clara Broncos, who made the Sweet 16 seven times and the Final Four once.
Duke: Mike Krzyzewski, who played point guard for the Army Black Knights, where he later began his coaching career.
Duke: Christian Laettner, Danny Ferry and Grant Hill. Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving attended but did not graduate, possibly because he was unable to pass science classes since he believes the Earth is flat.
Portland State: The legendary Freeman Williams, whose career highlights include being named NBA Player of the Month in 1980 while with the San Diego Clippers.
Duke: 16 Final Four appearances, five national championships.
Portland State: The Vikings' most recent postseason appearance was a 2014 berth in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, where they lost in the first round to San Diego.
Portland State: Had a mediocre record, lost to North Dakota in the Big Sky Conference Tournament.
Duke: Dirtbag and cheap-shot artist Grayson Allen, who everybody hates for his disgustingly unsportsmanlike hits on opposing players. Also, future superstar Marvin Bagley III.
Portland State: Deontae North has been playing well.
Predicted score: Duke wins a squeaker, 183-7.
Thursday, November 23, at noon. Tickets here.
Pilots: Two-time NBA All-Star Terry Porter. The Blazers legend took over last year and, uh, presided over a record-losing streak.
Tar Heels: Roy Williams, who was on the Tar Heels' JV squad and never sniffed the NBA.
Tar Heels: Michael Jordan, some other guys.
Pilots: UP's women's soccer team is very good.
Tar Heels: 20 Final Four appearances, including six championships.
Tar Heels: National champions.
Pilots: 11-22, including a team-record 14-game losing streak.
Tar Heels: Joel Berry II, who will hopefully be back at full strength after breaking his hand when he punched a door because he lost a game of NBA 2K to a teammate.
Pilots: Great Great Brit Josh "Swiggy P" McSwiggan, who recently ranked as the eighth best player in his whole country. Don't cut out Swiggy P if the Quaffle is passed to him near the goal hoops, avoiding Haversacking fouls.
Predicted score: UNC grinds it out for a gutsy win, 120-12.
GO: The Phil Knight Invitational is at the Moda Center and Memorial Coliseum, November 23-26. Tickets $30-$645. Full details at pkinvitational.com.