Armed Forces Classic teams named

The final two Armed Forces Classic series for the current five-year cycle could prove to be the most dynamic since the initial idea was hatched after the game on the USS Carl Vinson on 11-11-11.

ESPN announced Friday that the 2015 game will be held at the Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler in Okinawa, Japan, between perennial NCAA-bound tournament teams Gonzaga and Pitt.

The 2016 event will be quite a culmination of this five-year cycle of games played at military bases. The event will originate from the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu a few weeks shy of the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

This unique event will be a doubleheader, the first time the Armed Forces Classic has held two Division I games at one site, with Indiana playing Kansas and Arizona matching up with Michigan State. The selection of Arizona makes sense with one of the sunken ships being the USS Arizona.

The 2015 game will be on Nov. 13 while the 2016 games will be held on Nov. 11. All three games will be on ESPN.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few said in a statement, "This is a special opportunity for our players and staff, one that I'm sure will be a great memory for all of us.''

Added Pitt coach Jamie Dixon, "The trip will provide an opportunity for our players, coaches, administration and support staff to experience day-to-day life on an overseas military base.''

Arizona coach Sean Miller said it would be a special honor to participate in the 2016 event, while Indiana coach Tom Crean said, "Knowing that we will play on Veterans Day just prior to the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor adds even greater significance and offers us an experience of a lifetime.''

"We thought playing in the Armed Forces Classic would be a terrific experience for our players, especially to commemorate such an important time in our country,'' Kansas coach Bill Self said in a statement,

Added Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who also recognized the honor of the 75th anniversary: "As coaches and teams we talk about hard work, overcoming adversity and sacrifice. This will be a chance to pay tribute in our own little way to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we might enjoy the freedoms we still enjoy today.''

Michigan State lost to North Carolina on the USS Carl Vinson off the coast of San Diego in 2011. The Armed Forces Classic then started with the commitment to bring games to troops serving in all five branches of the military. The first game in that series involved the Spartans again, this time in Germany at Ramstein Air Base in Germany for the Air Force with unranked UConn beating No. 14 Michigan State 66-62.

A year ago, at Army Garrison Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, No. 19 Oregon beat Georgetown 82-75, in a game for the U.S. Army.

No. 8 Louisville is set to play unranked Minnesota Friday night for the U.S. Coast Guard at the Air Station Borinquen in Puerto Rico.

The last two games in the cycle are for the Marines and the Navy.