The Maui Jim Maui Invitational today revealed the 2018 Tournament bracket, which will feature national championship contenders, three preseason top-10 programs, numerous player of the year candidates and future NBA draft picks in what promises to be an action-packed three days at the Lahaina Civic Center.
Monday’s quarterfinal matchups feature Auburn taking on Xavier and Duke squaring off against San Diego State in the top half of the bracket, while the bottom half of the bracket will feature Arizona facing Iowa State and Gonzaga playing Illinois. The 35th edition of the nation’s premier early season Tournament will take place Nov. 19-21 at the Lahaina Civic Center on the island of Maui. All 12 Championship Round games of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational will be televised on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU and available to stream via the ESPN app.
“Each of the eight teams that step on the hardwood at the Lahaina Civic Center is capable of winning the 2018 Maui Jim Maui Invitational,” said Tournament Chairman David Odom. “All 12 games in Maui will help shape the course of the 2018-19 college basketball season, and the team that leaves the island with the Wayne Duke Championship Trophy will have incredible momentum to begin the year. The atmosphere is going to be electric, and we’re looking forward to hosting the teams and their fans in November.”
“It’s another great Maui Jim Maui Invitational field, obviously with two or three teams that potentially are Final Four and national championship worthy,” said longtime ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla. “It’s almost like an NCAA Regional bracket, but it’s played in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. There are going to be some incredible performances that we will remember long after these young men leave the island.”
“To win the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, a team has to have depth and talent, and has to be able to survive three games against great competition,” added ESPN and Maui broadcasting veteran Jay Bilas. “You cannot have an off game in Maui or you will be sent to the consolation bracket. One thing is for certain, you cannot back into a Maui title, and you cannot luck into one. This is a title you have to earn. Usually, a Maui title is a sign of a national championship caliber team. That is especially true this season.”
The 2018 Maui Jim Maui Invitational field comprises one of the most accomplished fields in Tournament history. It will feature four national coach of the year winners, led by Duke's 12-time honoree Mike Krzyzewski. He is one of six Maui-bound head coaches, with at least five years’ experience, who appear among the NCAA’s top 20 active leaders in winning percentage, joining Gonzaga’s Mark Few, Arizona’s Sean Miller, Illinois’ Brad Underwood, Auburn’s Bruce Pearl and Iowa State’s Steve Prohm.
Combined, the teams own 196 NCAA Tournament berths, including 27 Final Four appearances, and 197 conference regular season and tournament championships. Accompanied by Tournament newcomers Auburn and Xavier, the six returning programs have a combined 55-19 record in Maui, with the Blue Devils, Wildcats, Bulldogs and Illini boasting Maui Jim Maui Invitational championships. Arizona (2014), Duke (2011) and Illinois (2012) each return to Maui having claimed the Tournament title in their most recent appearance.
Over the years, the Tournament has proven to be a key ingredient in a team’s success. Since the Tournament’s inception, 124 teams that have started the season in Maui have gone on to compete in the NCAA Tournament, with 46 teams having advanced to the Sweet 16. In each of the last eight seasons, one or more teams that have competed in Maui to begin the season have gone on to at least the Elite Eight. All time, seven Maui programs have gone on to win the NCAA championship, with North Carolina the last team to do so during the 2016-17 season.
Due to high demand, travel packages for the 2018 Maui Jim Maui Invitational are sold out. Ticket packages, based on availability, will be available for purchase through the Tournament website, www.mauiinvitational.com/tickets, beginning at 4 p.m. ET on August 8.
Auburn vs. Xavier
Series Record: Xavier leads, 5-4
Last Matchup: Dec. 19, 2015 (Xavier 85, Auburn 61)
Notes: Xavier has won five of the last six matchups in the series; both programs are making their first all-time appearance at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational
Duke vs. San Diego State
Series Record: Duke leads, 2-0
Last Matchup: March 22, 2015 (Duke 68, San Diego State 49 – NCAA Tournament Round of 32)
Notes: Duke is undefeated in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, boasting a 16-0 record and five championships; San Diego State advanced to the Tournament title game in its previous Maui appearance (2014)
Arizona vs. Iowa State
Series Record: Series tied 3-3
Last Matchup: Dec. 19, 1998 (Arizona 75, Iowa State 61)
Notes: Arizona won the Tournament title in its previous appearance (2014) and is tied for the most all-time Tournament appearances (7, North Carolina); Iowa State returns to the Tournament for the first time since 1990
Gonzaga vs. Illinois
Series Record: Illinois leads 5-1
Last Matchup: Dec. 8, 2012 (Illinois 85, Gonzaga 74)
Notes: Illinois and Gonzaga have both won the Maui Jim Maui Invitational – the Illini doing so in 2012 and Gonzaga taking the title in 2009; each program is making their fifth Tournament appearance