Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona to compete at inaugural Arizona Tip-Off basketball tournament in November

Northern Arizona coach Shane Burcar, left, and Grand Canyon coach Bryce Drew will face a step up in competition at the Arizona Tip-Off, where a strong showing could factor into a potential NCAA tournament bid. (Left photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; Right photo by Tommy Martino/University of Montana/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Grand Canyon University and Northern Arizona University will represent the state of Arizona in a new early-season men’s basketball tournament in Glendale, Intersport announced Thursday.

The Arizona Tip-Off, set for Nov. 17-19 at Desert Diamond Arena, presents a rare tournament for the western United States. Of the 25 regularly contested multi-team events in the 2022-23 season, only six were held outside of the Eastern and Central time zones.

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DePaul, South Carolina, San Francisco and GCU will play in the Cactus Division, while South Dakota, Virginia Military, Purdue Fort Wayne and NAU will compete in the Desert Division. All eight teams will be in action Nov. 17.

The Desert Division’s championship game and third-place game will be held Nov. 18, while the Cactus Division will follow the same schedule Nov. 19.

“Glendale and the Greater Phoenix area are known not only for being a basketball-centric region, but for hosting major sporting events,” said Mark Starsiak, the vice president of basketball at Intersport and the event director for the Arizona Tip-Off. “We’re confident that, in a short time, the Arizona Tip-Off will make its way onto the short list of elite early season multi-team events.”

The Tip-Off also offers the opportunity for non-major conference schools such as GCU and NAU to earn significant wins in non-conference games, which could help build its NCAA tournament resume.

There is plenty of excitement on both sides for the new November showcase.

“We eagerly anticipate becoming the host of a multi-day event that welcomes teams and fans from every corner of the country to our state,” said Nikki Balich, Executive Director of the Arizona Sports and Entertainment Commission. “This not only boosts our tourism industry but also strategically places us in the national spotlight during an important time of year.”

Shy Ghara shy garr-ah (he/him/his)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix