Second Annual Arizona Tip-Off Field Announced

Second Annual Arizona Tip-Off Field Announced

June 27, 2024

The four-team Cactus Division field for the 2024 Arizona Tip-Off has been announced, bringing together four power conference programs that combined to average better than 20 wins per game last season.

Butler, Mississippi State, Northwestern and UNLV will take part in this year’s Arizona Tip-Off, which is set for Nov. 28-29 at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz. The sterling 5,000-seat multipurpose facility, which opened in October 2022, will host the event for the first time. Matchups, game times and television designations will be announced at a later date.

All four programs took part in postseason play last year, with Mississippi State and Northwestern earning NCAA berths and Butler and UNLV appearing in the NIT. The Wildcats posted 22 wins a year ago, Mississippi State and UNLV finished with 21 and Butler recorded 18. Mississippi State and Northwestern are competing in the same early season tournament for the second year in a row, with the Bulldogs defeating the Wildcats in the 2023 Hall of Fame Classic championship game.

The only way to guarantee tickets to the event is by purchasing an official fan travel package. Travel packages for fans looking to join their favorite team in the Valley of the Sun over Thanksgiving Weekend will be available on July 17 at Packages will include tickets to each Cactus Division game of the tournament and hotel accommodations at one of the Tip-Off’s host resorts – the Scottsdale Plaza Resort & Villas and Gila River Resorts & Casino – Wild Horse Pass. Fans can also register to receive regular event updates and additional tournament and ticket news by visiting Ticket packages, based on availability, will be available in the fall.

“The collective strength of these programs will make the Arizona Tip-Off one of the more intriguing early season events in college basketball,” said Mark Starsiak, vice president of basketball at Intersport, which owns and operates the event. “We established an incredible foundation for this event in its inaugural year, showcased by the highly competitive championship game that featured two NCAA Tournament programs. The expectations are high for each of the participating 2024 programs entering this season and we are excited to bring what should be an ultra-competitive basketball environment to Mullett Arena and The Valley this Thanksgiving.”

In the event’s inaugural year last season, South Carolina defeated Grand Canyon in the Cactus Division championship game. It proved to be an early indication of each team’s strength as the Gamecocks won 26 games and finished second in the loaded SEC, while the Lopes won 30 games and claimed the WAC title. Both squads advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

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About the Teams of the Arizona Tip-Off Cactus Division

  • Longtime coach Thad Matta is in his third season with Butler and fourth overall with the program, having previously served as head coach in 2000-01
  • Matta boasts 471 wins in 19 seasons as a head coach with Butler, Xavier and Ohio State, carrying an overall winning percentage of .716, which ranks among the top 15 nationally among active coaches
  • The Bulldogs have appeared in 16 NCAA Tournaments in their history, including a pair of trips to the national championship game, and have won 20 conference championships – 13 regular season and seven tournament titles
  • Butler was 18-15 last year and returned to postseason play for the first time since 2018 (the Bulldogs were 22-9 in the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season), and will be the only Big East team to return its top two scorers from last year

Mississippi State

  • Chris Jans is embarking on his third season as head coach of the Bulldogs, and ninth overall as a head coach, joining the program in 2022 and guiding it to consecutive 21-win campaigns
  • With the exception of the COVID-impacted season of 2020-21, Jans has led his teams to 20 or more wins in seven of his eight years as a head coach and five NCAA Tournaments
  • The Bulldogs have appeared in the NCAA Tournament 13 times, including each of the last two years, the first time the program has made consecutive berths since 2008 and 2009
  • Mississippi State is seeking its third straight early season tournament championship, having won the 2022 Fort Myers Tip-Off and the 2023 Basketball Hall of Fame Classic, the latter of which coming after defeating Northwestern for the championship


  • Entering his 12th season as head coach, Chris Collins has established Northwestern as an NCAA-Tournament caliber program since he took over in Evanston in 2013
  • Collins has guided Northwestern to its three all-time NCAA Tournament appearances, advancing to the Round of 32 each season (2017, 2023, 2024),
  • Northwestern has four 20-win seasons in the last nine years; prior to that stretch, Northwestern had just two 20-win seasons in their entire history
  • Last season, the Wildcats were 22-12 and 12-8 in Big Ten play, finishing tied for third in league play and earning a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament for the second straight year


  • Now in his fourth year at his alma mater, Kevin Kruger guided UNLV to 21 victories last year, the most wins since the Rebels won 25 games in 2012-13
  • Kruger played under his father, Lon, at UNLV for the 2006-07 season, helping the program to a 30-7 record and a berth in the Sweet 16 while earning MWC Tournament MVP honors
  • One of the most iconic programs in college basketball, the Runnin’ Rebels have appeared in 20 NCAA Tournaments, advanced to four Final Fours and won the 1990 national title
  • The program owns a combined 24 conference championships, 13 regular-season titles and 11 tournament crowns