Since its inception in 1984, the Maui Invitational has become arguably the most prestigious early-season tournament in college basketball. The tournament’s field routinely features several of the country’s top teams in some of the better non-conference match-ups the college hoops season has to offer.
2010 is no exception as the bracket includes three teams ranked in the Top 25, three teams picked to win their respective conferences, as well as several of college basketball’s traditional powers.
2010 EA Sports Maui Invitational Field
The Shockers were picked to win the Missouri Valley Conference as they return eight of their top nine players from a team that won 25 games a year ago. With loads of experience returning, Wichita State is one of the mid-majors billed as a sleeper team in 2010.
After missing the NCAA Tournament a year ago, UConn coach Jim Calhoun will have one of his youngest teams ever in 2010 with just one senior and seven freshman on the roster. The group is talented nonetheless and the Huskies do return star junior Kemba Walker, who will be a first-round NBA pick whenever he chooses to leave school.
Michigan State (#2)
The crown jewel of the tournament, Michigan State enters the season ranked #2 in the polls with much of their Final Four team returning. The Spartans are led by one of the top back-courts in the nation in Durrell Summers and Kalin Lucas.
Chaminade is a Division II school and the annual host of the Maui Invitational. The tournament was inspired by Chaminade’s upset win over Ralph Sampson’s #1 ranked Virginia team in 1982, widely regarded as the biggest upset in NCAA history.
Just two years removed from being an Elite Eight team, Oklahoma appears to be in a rebuilding year with nine new players on the roster to start the season. The Sooners were aÂ disappointmentÂ last season, but even further challenges seem to be ahead in 2010.
Kentucky had five players drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft off last year’s team that fell to West Virginia in the Elite Eight, but John Calipari simply reloaded with more top high-school talent coming in this season. The Wildcats will be young once again and the roster took a hit when freshman big man Enes Kanter was ruled ineligible for the season by the NCAA, but the talentedÂ recruitingÂ class should still have Kentucky in the thick of the SEC title race.
Tony Bennett appears to beÂ continuingÂ to shape his roster after coming to Virginia from Washington State a year ago. Bennett’s team are always well coached and defensively sound, but the Cavaliers don’t have the talent yet to be a major factor in 2010.
Expectations are high at Washington as the Huskies return four starters from a team that won the Pac-10 Tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16 last season. Lorenzo Romar’s team is deep, athletic and experienced and should be in position to make a deep tournament run come March.
EA Sports Maui Invitational
November 22-24, 2010
Lahaina Civic Center, Maui, Hawaii