To catch up on all of the posts in this series visit the 2017-18 Early Season Events Hub.
What Is It?
How Long Has This Event Been Around?
Here’s the tweaked history piece from last season’s primer, though the last two sentences don’t quite apply this season, for reasons I’ll get into shortly.
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?
As usual, the Maui Jim Maui Invitational is scheduled for the Lahaina Civic Center on the island of Maui on the Monday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving—November 20th through 22nd. This year’s Maui on the Mainland, with a truncated format, is set for November 18th and 19th at Wofford’s new Richardson Indoor Stadium, in Spartanburg, S.C.
This season will mark the end of Chaminade’s continuous presence in the main bracket of the Invitational. Starting in 2018, the Silverswords will participate as a Maui on the Mainland school in even years, returning to the main bracket in odd-numbered ones. That means next year’s quarterfinal lineup will feature eight Division I teams.
Here’s this year’s roster and a link to the full bracket.
- Marquette Golden Eagles (Big East) vs. VCU Rams (A 10)
- Wichita State Shockers (American) vs. California Golden Bears (Pac-12)
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish (ACC) vs. Chaminade Silverswords (DII, PacWest)
- Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten) vs. LSU Tigers (SEC)
Are There Any Non-Bracketed Games?
For five of the main bracket teams (everyone except for LSU and Wichita State), yes. But for the first time since the Maui on the Mainland event launched in 2011, four Division I squads failed to sign up to participate. So, only three teams will travel to Spartanburg for the Mainland bracket, which will be a sort of round-robin, with non-Division I teams involved for the first time.
Curiously, the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers will traveling to South Carolina, where they’ll play the North Florida Ospreys. However, they won’t play the host Wofford Terriers even though they’ll... be... right... there.
For more details, check out the release on the Mainland and Regional Round games.
Did Any Of These Teams Reach The 2017 Postseason?
Five squads—Michigan (Sweet 16), Notre Dame (Second Round), Wichita State (also Second Round), Marquette, and VCU (each First Round)—qualified for the NCAA Tournament, while Cal fell to the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners in the NIT’s first round.
How Strong Is This Event?
Based on the average four-year rankings of the participants, the 2017 Maui Jim Maui Invitational ranks fourth among the 14 eight-team bracketed tournaments and ninth of 38 bracketed tournaments. I didn’t rank the Mainland event because of the lack of a full Division I round-robin.
Have Any Of These Teams Played In This Event Before?
As I mentioned before, this season will conclude Chaminade’s consecutive run in the main bracket, which began with the inaugural Maui Invitational in 1984.
Cal returns in the minimum four seasons since their 2013 trip, though their only prior appearance before then came in 1996. LSU joined the Golden Bears in that particular field and Marquette in the 2007 edition—the Golden Eagles’ only prior trip. The Bayou Bengals earliest appearance came in 1992.
Michigan last attended in 2011, which was the Wolverines’ fifth visit, but first since 1998. Notre Dame’s two prior Maui appearances came 15 years apart, in 1993 and 2008. Wichita State’s lone participation came in 2010, while VCU has never made the trip to the middle of the Pacific before.
Of the eight teams in this season’s field, only Michigan has won the Maui Invitational championship—which the Wolverines did all the way back in 1985 and 1988! Marquette finished second to the Duke Blue Devils in 2007, while Notre Dame did the same one season later, when future conference rival North Carolina Tar Heels claimed the title.
Are There Any Other Notable Recent Meetings Between These Teams?
Three of these squads have faced off with the field’s lone Division II squad in recent tournaments. After falling to the eventual champion (and National Champion) UConn Huskies in the 2010 Maui quarterfinals, Wichita State defeated Chaminade 79-58 in the consolation semifinals. LSU’s lone win in the 2007 event came against the Silverswords, while Marquette defeated the hosts in that season’s quarterfinals.
But the Division I squads in the field have met each other numerous times in recent exempt tournaments.
Notre Dame topped California 57-44 in an Old Spice Classic semifinal in 2010, a game in which the Golden Bears managed to score just five (5) points in the first half!
Marquette edged Ben Simmons-led LSU in the 2015 Legends Classic semifinals by an 81-80 score, and the pair split a home-and-home series played in 2011 and 2012, with each squad picking up a win on its own floor. Just last season, the Golden Eagles fell to Michigan in the 2K Classic semifinals at Madison Square Garden. That gave the Wolverines a slight bit of revenge for Marquette’s win in the 2009 Old Spice semifinals in Florida.
In other action last November, VCU knocked off LSU in the fifth-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis, while Wichita State blew the Tigers out of that event’s quarterfinals. In fact, the Shockers have four consecutive wins over LSU dating back to the 2006-07 season.
Oh, there’s also the little matter of Will Wade leaving VCU for the head job in Baton Rouge during the offseason.
As if those results weren’t enough, these teams also share some recent March history. Notre Dame eliminated Michigan from the 2016 NCAAs in the First Round by a 70-63 score in Brooklyn. On the flip side, the Wolverines’ run to the 2013 National Championship game featured a dominant 78-53 win over VCU in the Round of 32. (And John Beilein’s squad missed Wichita State in Atlanta.) Going back to the Fighting Irish, they knocked off Wichita State 81-70 in the Sweet Sixteen two seasons later. In 2012, VCU eliminated the Shockers in the Round of 64. The Rams also managed to leave Wichita with a 68-67 win in a 2011 BracketBuster game, though they dropped a two-point decision at home in the return match two years later.
And who can forget that Marquette and Notre Dame called the Big East home until the Fighting Irish left for the ACC in time for the 2013-14 season.
Who Won 2016’s Edition?
The North Carolina Tar Heels, who eventually cut down the nets in Glendale, Arizona, claimed the 2016 title with a 71-56 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers.
Did Any 2016 Teams Reach The Postseason?
Three squads joined UNC in the NCAAs.
The Oregon Ducks surprisingly dropped into the consolation bracket in Lahaina following a quarterfinal loss to the Georgetown Hoyas (of all teams). But the Ducks had the last laugh, as they pushed the Tar Heels in the National Semifinals, falling by only a single point. Wisconsin knocked off defending National Champion Villanova Wildcats in the Second Round as an eight seed, but the Florida Gators stunned the Badgers one round later. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma State Cowboys lost to Michigan in the First Round.
Will This Event Be On TV?
Of course! All 12 games will appear on either ESPN, ESPN2, or ESPNU, with the Championship Game airing on ESPN2 on Thanksgiving Eve.
For the first time I can recall, the semifinals will not take place as a doubleheader on Tuesday evening (Eastern Time). Instead, the first semifinal is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, an 8:30 a.m. Hawai’i Time tip, with the second slated for the evening as usual.
Who’s Your Pick To Win It?
American Athletic newcomer Wichita State could win a conference title in its first season, so don’t be surprised if the Shockers pick up a Maui Invitational crown along the way. Michigan and Notre Dame look to be the most serious threats to Gregg Marshall’s squad.
Marquette over VCU
Wichita State over Cal
Notre Dame over Chaminade
Michigan over LSU
Wichita State over Marquette
Notre Dame over Michigan
(consolation) VCU over Cal
(consolation) LSU over Chaminade
Championship: Wichita State over Notre Dame
3rd Place: Michigan over Marquette
5th Place: VCU over LSU
7th Place: Cal over Chaminade