Maui Invitational bracket revealed
Experienced Shockers to open with Golden Bears on Nov. 20 in Lahaina
Wichita State, which returns the top eight scorers from a team that went 31-5 last season, will face California in the opening round of this year’s Maui Jim Maui Invitational, tournament officials revealed Tuesday in announcing the bracket for the 34th edition of the event.
The three-day tournament at the Lahaina Civic Center will begin Nov. 20, with Marquette playing Virginia Commonwealth in the opener.
Chaminade, in the final year before it begins being absent from the tournament in alternate seasons, will meet Notre Dame in the first round, and a game between Michigan and LSU will conclude the opening day of play.
Wichita State reached the round of 32 in last year’s NCAA tournament, and among the returnees for the Shockers are 2017 Missouri Valley Conference first-teamers Markis McDuffie and Landry Shamet.
“This happens to be a year where we’ve got a lot of experience, and hopefully these kids can come and play the way they ended last season, on a high note and playing very well, and hopefully the experience will carry them through early this season,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said during a teleconference for tournament coaches.
Michigan, which reached the NCAA Sweet 16 last season, brings back Moritz Wagner, who averaged 12.1 points per game, as well as Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (9.1 points). Additionally, Charles Matthews will be eligible after transferring from Kentucky before last season.
“I just know down the road, as he continues to develop, we plan on him being a key piece of our puzzle,” Michigan coach John Beilein said of Matthews.
Among the returnees for Notre Dame is Bonzie Colson, an Associated Press third-team All-American last season who helped the Fighting Irish reach the NCAA round of 32.
“Bonzie’s been one of the great stories of college basketball, a guy that’s gotten better every year,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “He wasn’t a highly rated recruit, but he is one of those guys that’s a worker. He always had a little bit of a chip on his shoulder and has been told he wasn’t going to be good enough to do certain things, and he’s put himself in a position heading into his senior year possibly being the player of the year.”
The other team in the field that went to last season’s NCAA tournament is Marquette, which brings back a group that includes Markus Howard, whose .547 shooting percentage on 3-pointers last season led the nation, and Andrew Rowsey, the Big East Sixth Man of the Year for 2016-17.
“We have an interesting team,” Golden Eagles coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “We do have some guys who played big roles on our NCAA tournament team last year, but we also have a lot of new faces.”
One of the more intriguing matchups could come on the final day, with LSU potentially facing VCU. The Tigers are coached by Will Wade, who spent the previous two seasons leading the Rams, going to the NCAA tournament each time.
“I’m a VCU fan,” Wade said. “VCU’s a great place. Passionate fans, good players, good people. (Current Rams head coach) Mike Rhoades and I are very good friends. We roomed together for four years when we were assistants. It would be an interesting experience. You never like to play friends. You never like to play people you’re that familiar with, but if that’s the way it goes, we’ll prepare our team the best we can.”
Michigan is the only team headed to Maui this year that has won the event before — the Wolverines took the title in 1985 and 1988.
The 2018 field, which was announced in October, comprises Duke — which has won the Maui title in each of its five appearances — Arizona, Gonzaga, San Diego State, Illinois, Iowa State, Xavier and Auburn.
* Brad Sherman is at email@example.com
Maui Jim Maui Invitational
At Lahaina Civic Center
Monday, Nov. 20
Marquette vs. VCU, 9:30 a.m. (ESPN2)
Wichita St. vs. California, noon (ESPN2)
Notre Dame vs. Chaminade, 4 p.m. (ESPNU)
Michigan vs. LSU, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Tuesday, Nov. 21
Marquette-VCU loser vs. Wichita St.-California loser, 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
Notre Dame-Chaminade loser vs. Michigan-LSU loser, 3 p.m. (ESPN2)
Marquette-VCU winner vs. Wichita St.-California winner, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Notre Dame-Chaminade winner vs. Michigan-LSU winner, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Wednesday, Nov. 22
Seventh-place game, 9:30 a.m. (ESPNU)
Fifth-place game, noon (ESPN2)
Third-place game, 3 p.m. (ESPN2)
Championship game, 5:30 p.m., (ESPN2)