UConn, Iowa State, among top 4 women’s basketball teams 10 traveled to Portland for Phil Knight tournaments

The Phil Knight Invitational and Phil Knight Legacy tournaments begin this week in Portland, bringing together many of the nation’s top college basketball programs. And for the first time, eight women’s teams will compete against each other in two separate groups of four teams each.

In the women’s tournaments, four teams are represented in the top 10 of the AP top 25. All eight teams will play their first games at the Chiles Center on the University of Portland campus, two games on Thanksgiving and two more on Friday. The winners will play two championship games Sunday at the Moda Center, while the first-round losers will play for third place at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Oregon Ducks are part of the PK Invitational bracket, which plays on Thursday, while the Oregon State Beavers play in the PK Legacy bracket on Friday.

Here are a few key numbers to know to prepare for the bank holiday weekend:

The number of NCAA championships coach Geno Auriemma has won in his 38 seasons at UConn, where he built the most dominant women’s program of all time.

The Huskies are still among the sport’s elite every season, but the growth of women’s football has led to greater depth at the collegiate level and they haven’t won a national title since 2016.

UConn made the championship game last season, but standout guard Paige Bueckers suffered a serious knee injury for the second time in two years and will miss the entire season. The current Huskies, ranked No. 3 in this week’s AP poll, are led by guard Azzi Fudd, who is averaging 30 points in three games this season.

Duke expects UConn Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the PK Legacy bracket. The Blue Devils, coached by former Tennessee and WNBA star Kara Lawson since 2020, have not made the NCAA tournament since 2018 but are starting 5-0 this season.

The career scoring average of Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, whose Hawkeyes are coming to Portland this week.

A 6-foot junior, Clark is a tireless worker on the court, with career averages of 6.9 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game to go along with her staggering scoring totals. The Hawkeyes are one of the best offensive teams in the nation, averaging 84.2 points per game last year. But last season ended on a negative note when the second-placed Hawkeyes were upset by Creighton in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Currently ranked 9th in the AP poll, Iowa meets Oregon State in the PK Legacy bracket at 5 p.m. Friday. The Beavers are looking to get back on track after missing the NCAA tournament last season for the first time since 2013. OSU is 4-0 going into this season, and freshman forward Raegan Beers had a stellar performance in her last game, amassing 28 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Prairie View A&M.

Average attendance for the Iowa State Cyclones last season ranked second in the country behind sole national champion South Carolina.

Under the stewardship of 28th-year head coach Bill Fennelly, the Cyclones are fifth-ranked in the nation and are coming this season with big ambitions after drafting into the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010.

Iowa State will take on Michigan State in the PK Invitational at 4:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The Cyclones and Spartans last met at the 2021 NCAA tournament, a 79-75 win in Iowa State.

The Spartans start this season 6-0, outperforming their opponents by an average of 86-46. Michigan State finished 15-15 last year and missed the NCAA tournament.

Last year North Carolina was ranked in the AP Top 10 prior to this week.

The Tar Heels roll in eighth in the poll in Portland and look to build on a Sweet 16 appearance last season. North Carolina has five players currently averaging double-digit points, the same number as PK Invitational opponents Oregon. The Ducks and Heels play Thursday at 2 p.m.

Oregon is ranked 18th in this week’s poll and is yet to be tested with four wins at the start of the season. The Ducks are still finding their footing in the post-Sabrina Ionescu era, and standout rookies Chance Gray, Jennah Isai and Grace VanSlooten could help Oregon return to an elite level after a disappointing first-round loss at last season’s NCAA tournament .

TIED TOGETHER: Phil Knight tournaments bring a bevy of elite man teams to Portland

— Scott Sepich for The Oregonian/OregonLive