PORTLAND, Ore. -- The 34th annual Far West Classic that begins Wednesday night marks the end of an era, no matter who wins the eight-team holiday basketball tournament.
The action starts with a doubleheader as Oregon State (6-2) plays Boston University (3-4), followed by Pepperdine (4-3) against Louisiana Tech (7-1).
First-round games Thursday night pit Oregon (5-3) against Northeastern (2-4) and North Carolina-Charlotte (3-4) against Illinois State (3-4).
OSU began the tourney in 1956 as a four-team affair on its Corvallis campus. After the Beavers had won the first three tournaments, they invited Oregon to join as co-host and the event was moved to Portland as an eight-team competition.
The Beavers remained undefeated in the for seven more years before losing all three games in the 1966 tourney.
Fred Meyer Inc., which climbed aboard as corporate sponsor, is dropping out after this year and the Classic will return to a four-team format next December, remaining in Portland with new sponsors -- Northwest retailers Thriftway and G.I. Joe's.
Again this year, the Beavers are the favorite, but they do not have the best record in the field. Louisiana Tech, which won the tournament in 1986, is 7-1, having suffered only a 3-point loss to Stanford.
'We don't expect to come in and surprise everyone like we did three years ago,' said Louisiana Tech coach Jerry Loyd. 'Three years ago, we came into Portland on a roll. Any time you can get on a roll in a tournament, you have a chance.'
Oregon State senior guard Gary Payton has been named to the Classic's all-tournament team each of the past three years and is being touted as a first-round NBA draft pick. The Oregon Ducks, meanwhile, have won all five home games and lost all three road games this year.