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2016 Maui Jim Maui Invitational Primer: Oregon, UNC, UConn, Wisconsin Headline A Typically Loaded Field

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This year's island showcase features the National Runner-Up and an Elite Eight squad, both of whom are looking for more. Oh, there's also a Huskies squad that's looking to equal the Tar Heels' total of three Maui titles and a Badger outfit aiming to build on a strong finish last March.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

To catch up on all of the posts in this series visit the 2016-17 Early Season Events hub.

What Is It?

The Maui Jim Maui Invitational Tournament (official website)

How Long Has This Event Been Around?

From last year's primer, though I tweaked the final two sentences for clarity...

The first Maui Invitational took place in 1984 with Davidson, Providence, and Virginia joining host Chaminade, then in the NAIA, now in the Division II's PacWest Conference. The Friars defeated the Silverswords in the final. The host's famous defeat of a Cavalier team, featuring Ralph Sampson, in 1982—a game only played because Virginia was looking to play one on the islands on their way back from a tournament in Japan—was the impetus for the creation of this tournament, which expanded to eight teams in 1986.

The event kept the same format from then until 2011, when the "Maui on the Mainland" games were launched. This expanded the field by four teams, who would provide fourth games to the main bracket teams not named Chaminade.

Three of the four Mainland teams play two road games against main bracket teams each.

The fourth plays just one game, but it hosts the Mainland teams' four-team, two-round tournament as compensation.

When And Where Is It?

This season, the Maui Jim Maui Invitational is scheduled for Monday, November 21st (quarterfinals); Tuesday, November 22nd (semifinals); and Wednesday, November 23rd (finals). As always, the Lahaina Civic Center is the venue.

Despite Chattanooga's schedule release stating otherwise, the Maui on the Mainland teams aren't finalized. We know that the Mocs from the Southern Conference are involved, and that the Patriot League's Army West Point Black Knights will reportedly host the Mainland bracket. Anything else out there is only a guess.

I will update this post when the Mainland pairings are announced.

Who's Playing?

Here are the eight Championship Round teams, listed by quarterfinal matchup.

Tennessee
Tennessee Volunteers (SEC)
vs. 
Wisconsin Badgers (Big Ten)
Wisconsin
Georgetown
Georgetown Hoyas (Big East) 
vs.
Oregon Ducks (Pac-12)
Oregon
Oklahoma St
Oklahoma State Cowboys (Big 12) 
vs.
Connecticut Huskies (American)
UConn
UNC
North Carolina Tar Heels (ACC)
vs.
Chaminade Silverswords (DII, PacWest)
Chaminade

Logos from SportsLogos.net, except for Chaminade, which is from GoSwords.com

The full bracket is available on the Maui Jim Maui Invitational website.

Note that since Georgetown is scheduled to host UConn on January 14th and Tennessee visits UNC on December 11th, these teams have been placed on separate sides of the bracket.

Did Any Of These Teams Make The NCAAs or NIT Last Season?

Four of the seven Division I Island teams made the 2016 NCAA Tournament, with each winning at least one game. North Carolina lost in the National Championship game to the Villanova Wildcats, while Oregon fell one game short of Houston. Notre Dame eliminated Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen, and Kansas tripped UConn up in the Second Round.

Have Any Of These Teams Made The Trip Before?

Since Chaminade is the host, they've appeared in every tournament since the 1984 launch. This will be North Carolina's seventh Maui trip, with the Tar Heels claiming three titles (1999, 2004, 2008). UNC's last trip, in 2012, ended with a third-place finish.

UConn is jetting out to the middle of the Pacific for the fourth time. The Huskies brought the trophy home in 2005 and 2010, with the latter victory foreshadowing their 2011 NCAA crown.

Georgetown and Tennessee last appeared in 2011, when both beat Chaminade. (The Hoyas also defeated the Memphis Tigers to finish fifth.) 2016 will be the third appearance for both—and for Wisconsin, who went 2-1 in 2009.

Oregon's made just one previous Maui trip, with the Ducks falling to UNC in the 2008 semifinals. Oklahoma State went 1-2 in their lone appearance in 2007.

Any Other Notable Recent Meetings?

Last season, Georgetown took down Wisconsin in the 2K Classic semifinals, though that result meant little to both teams by the time March rolled around. The Badgers also defeated the Hoyas at the Battle 4 Atlantis in 2014, and a few months later, they eliminated UNC from the 2015 NCAAs in the Sweet Sixteen. Oregon fell to Wisconsin in the Round of 32 during the Badgers' 2014 Final Four season.

Two of Oklahoma State's last three NCAA trips ended in the Round of 64 at the hands of the Ducks—2013 and 2015.

Most distressingly, Georgetown won a 37-36 game over Tennessee on November 30, 2012 at the Verizon Center.

Way back in 2008, Georgetown, Tennessee, and Oklahoma State all participated in the Old Spice Classic, where the Vols defeated the Hoyas in the semifinals.

Who Won Last Year?

The Kansas Jayhawks took the title with a 70-63 victory over the surprising Vanderbilt Commodores.

Did Any 2015 Entrants Make The NCAAs Or NIT?

Of last year's seven Island squads, only three made either field, with all making the main event. Kansas reached the Elite Eight, where the eventual champions,  Villanova Wildcats, stunned them. The Indiana Hoosiers reached the Sweet Sixteen, where North Carolina eliminated them. The Hoosiers only went 1-2 in Lahaina, falling to both the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and St. John's Red Storm. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, barely made the field of 68, and lost to the Wichita State Shockers in the First Four once there.

Will It Be On TV?

Every game from Lahaina will appear on an ESPN outlet, with the final appearing on ESPN2 for what appears to be the first time ever.

Who Do You Think Will Win?

With North Carolina, Oregon, and Wisconsin all likely to be in the preseason Top 10 and UConn a probable Top 25 squad, they're the overwhelming favorites to reach the semifinals. And since Georgetown, Oklahoma State, and Tennessee all finished with sub-.500 records last season, the onus will be on each to show that some improvement. As for the hosts, a quarterfinal win over UNC would rank up there with their 1982 win over Virginia. However, the Silverswords' best hope for a win will come in the consolation round, where they should encounter a second-division squad from a power conference.

Quarterfinals

Wisconsin over Tennessee
Oregon over Georgetown
UConn over Oklahoma State
North Carolina over Chaminade

Semifinals

Oregon over Wisconsin
North Carolina over UConn
Georgetown over Tennessee
Oklahoma State over Chaminade

Placement Games

7th/8th Place: Tennessee over Chaminade
5th/6th Place: Georgetown over Oklahoma State
3rd/4th Place: UConn over Wisconsin
Championship: Oregon over North Carolina

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