Bracket set for Maui Invitational

Syracuse, one of two programs with an unbeaten record in the EA Sports Maui Invitational, will play Minnesota in the first round of this year’s tournament on Nov. 25, event officials announced Wednesday.

The Orange and Golden Gophers will play in the second game of the tournament, at 12:30 p.m. at the Lahaina Civic Center. Arkansas and California will meet in the opener, at 10 a.m., Chaminade is to face Baylor at 4:30 p.m. and Dayton and Gonzaga are to square off at 7 p.m.

The title game of the three-day event is set for 5 p.m. on Nov. 27.

Syracuse is 6-0 in the tournament, winning titles in 1990 and 1998. The other team with a perfect Maui record is Duke, 15-0 in five appearances.

The Orange, who lost to Michigan in last season’s national semifinals, are No. 9 in ESPN’s rankings entering the 2013-14 season. Among their returning players is C.J. Fair, who averaged 14.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game last season, both team bests.

Gonzaga is No. 18 in the early ESPN rankings, one spot ahead of Baylor. The Bulldogs were a No. 1 seed in last season’s NCAA tournament, but lost to Wichita State in the round of 32. The Bears won last season’s National Invitation Tournament – Cory Jefferson, who averaged 21.2 points in the NIT, is returning.

“We are excited to have such an outstanding field for the 30th annual EA Sports Maui Invitational,” tournament chairman Dave Odom said in a release. “All eight teams have high expectations this year, and we look forward to once again seeing the best early-season tournament competition in Maui.”

Dayton and Gonzaga are the only two schools from outside of the six major conferences to own Maui Invitational championships – the Flyers won in 2003, and the Bulldogs in 2009.

“Playing in Maui with this year’s field is not only exciting but it is going to really help us down the road,” Dayton coach Archie Miller was quoted as saying on the school’s athletics website. “Gonzaga is one of the nation’s best and most consistent programs. Coach (Mark) Few is outstanding and we know that we will be playing a team that has a Final Four mentality.”

This year’s field does not have a Big East team, or a member of the American Athletic Conference, which includes former Big East members.

Tickets are currently on sale only through travel packages. Dates and locations for sales on Maui will be set later.

The “opening games” on the Mainland, which are affiliated with the Maui Invitational but do not affect the Lahaina bracket, are set for Nov. 15-19, all with the Maui-bound teams hosting. Oakland (Mich.), St. Francis (N.Y.), Coastal Carolina and Louisiana will be the opponents in those games.