The Maui Invitational is the most popular early season tournament in college basketball. Every year, some of the nations top teams square off in Hawaii, and this season is no different. Michigan State and Kansas come in as the favorites, and we’ll see teams like Virginia Tech and Dayton try to prove they’re worth being in the conversation as a legit contender.
Dates: November 25-27, 2019
Location: Lahaina Civic Center, Lahaina, Hawaii
Dayton vs. Georgia
Michigan State vs. Virginia Tech
Kansas vs. Chaminade
UCLA vs. BYU
Teams, Part 1
After the Spartans lost to Kentucky in their opener, they’ve rattled off three straight wins and looking to show the country that they’re the best team in college basketball. They rank in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency, according to Kenpom. Cassius Winston leads the team with 17.5 points, and will be looking to show off his talents in one of the most popular early season tournaments.
The Jayhawks are another top team in the country looking to prove their worth. Kansas has struggled with turnovers early in the season as they rank 205th, according to Kenpom. Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike are off to a great start, and are going to be a fun duo to watch this season. Isaiah Moss is the teams three-point specialist, and shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc. A game between Kansas and Michigan State can be fun.
Virginia Tech is a bit of a dark horse in the ACC this year. According to Kenpom, they rank 41st in the nation overall, and have a defense that can matchup with Michigan State. Also, they rank 12th in three-point percentage, so Virginia Tech can never be counted out if shots fall. Landers Nolley II is the teams go to player as he averages 20.2 points per game.
Dayton has been relying on their offense to win games this season. They rank first in two-point percentage, and third in effective field-goal percentage, according to Kenpom. However, their defense isn’t so stellar. The Flyers are 85th in defensive efficiency, but they rank 343rd in defending the perimeter. If they get a team they can hit three’s, then it’ll be a long week in Hawaii for Dayton.
Teams, Part 2
Georgia’s up-tempo offense is fun to watch led by freshman Anthony Edwards. Edwards is averaging 19.3 points, six rebounds, and four assists early this season. This is another team that will be tested this week, as Tom Crean continues to rebuild the Bulldogs program. However, this is another team that struggles to defend three-point shots. They need their guards to step up this week.
BYU has had an up-and-down start to the season as they sit at 3-2. One of their biggest issues has been rebounding early on. According to Kenpom, the Cougars rank 323rd in rebounding percentage, and will be a huge factor on how BYU does in Maui. However, they can hit their three’s, so as long as this team can shoot, then they’ll be able to hang with anyone.
UCLA has four players averaging double digits this season. They really don’t rely on their bench that much, as they rank 211th in bench minutes, according to Kenpom. However, when their starting five has been playing, then things have looked good for the Bruins this season. Also, they have been very good at rebounding this season, which will be important going up against BYU.
The Silverswords have been hosting the Maui Invitational since 1984. The division-II school has pulled off a few upsets in this tournament. Tyler Cartaino is averaging 20.5 points per game to start the season, and they have three players averaging double digits. Their first-round matchup is against Kansas. Chaminade did beat the number one seed Virginia back in 1982, maybe they can find that magic and do it again on Monday.
Michigan State and Kansas should take care of their first-round opponents. With how bad BYU is at rebounding, UCLA should get past them. However, these teams matchup evenly, but UCLA does have an edge in an important category. Both Georgia and Dayton are bad at defending the three, so expect a lot of points in this matchup. This is another very even matchup, but Georgia should sneak passed the Flyers.
Potential semi-finals matchups
Again, Michigan State and Kansas should get passed their next-round opponents. These two teams are much better than the field, and should see each other in the championship game. Also, Virginia Tech will be fun to watch in the consolation bracket. They got the short end of the stick going up against Michigan State first-round, and seeing what they can do in the consolation will be fun.
Potential finals matchup
Rock Chalk and Sparty will be such a fun championship game on Wednesday. Both of these teams lost in the Championship Classic to open up the season, and will get another shot to show the country that they’re one of the best teams in the country. The edge belongs to Michigan State because Kansas does turn the ball over, and has struggled shooting free throws. In a finals game, this could cost Kansas the Maui title.