Everybody knows tomorrow is Thanksgiving. But it's also the first day of an interesting sports experiment in Portland.
The Phil Knight Invitational -- PK80 -- opens Thursday, running similtaneously in Moda Center and Memorial Coliseum. It's being billed as the greatest in-season college basketball tournament ever and it very well may be. You're talking about the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, Ohio State, Texas, Florida, Gonzaga and Oregon -- to name just a few. It's the cream of the crop in college basketball gathered together inside two arenas for a holiday feast of hoops talent. I'm guessing a who's who of NBA general managers, scouts and personnel directors will be on hand.
But one question remains on the eve of the tournament:
Does Portland care?
Serious question. A lot has changed since the days when the Far West Classic packed Memorial Coliseum with an eight-team Christmas tournament. College basketball just isn't the attraction it once was. And I'm not necessarily pessimistic about how this tournament will draw in Portland, I'm more curious than anything else. I just don't have any idea how this will be received.
A quick check of the secondary market today showed tickets for some sessions available for as low as $6, even though advertising for this event has been heavy. But that doesn't mean a lot. The actual crowd count at the games is what's going to tell the tale.
Is Portland now strictly an NBA town? Will fans want to watch games in the clunky old "Glass Palace" when they can go next door to Moda and watch in more comfort? Are people still interested in watching the college game, especially some of the very best college teams? Or would they rather save their money and watch the Trail Blazers play? Didn't Oregon's Final Four trip last season spark renewed interest in the sport? If so, how much?
I don't know, quite honestly. But we will find out this weekend.