The GCI Great Alaska Shootout (originally known as the Sea Wolf Classic) is an annual college basketball tournament in Anchorage, Alaska that features colleges from all over the United States. The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) hosts the tournament every Thanksgiving. Tournament games are played at the Alaska Airlines Center, a new arena on the UAA campus. Prior to the opening of the Alaska Airlines Center in September 2014, games were played at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. Prior to the Sullivan Arena opening in 1983, games were played at Buckner Fieldhouse. The men's tournament, held annually since 1978, includes eight teams while the women's tournament, held annually since 1980, has four participants.
Under National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules, teams are normally limited to 28 regular-season games. However, games in "exempted events", traditionally played early in the season, are not counted against that limit. The most recent policy from the NCAA in this regard allows all teams to play in one exempted event per season. Those teams who choose to take advantage of that opportunity may play up to thirty-one games per season, including games played in those exempted events but excluding postseason tournament games. A previous incarnation of this rule allowed for all games played outside the United States mainland to be exempt from the (then) twenty-seven game limit. This version of the rule was partially responsible for the genesis of tournaments such as the Great Alaska Shootout.
The men's tournament field has included at least one team which would qualify for the NCAA Division I tournament later in the season during each of its 36 editions. The 1985 field included an event record six teams that would go on to be invited to the NCAA Tournament. Five times the tournament field has included the defending NCAA Champion, most recently in 1996 when the University of Kentucky took part in the tournament.
1Tournament was played in a round robin format. 2The tournament was moved to earlier in the season beginning in the 1994-95 season; hence the first 1994 tournament corresponds to the 1993-94 season and the second tournament to the 1994-95 season.