Maui Invitational teams faring well in Big Dance

March 23, 2011, 9:36 AM HST · Updated March 23, 9:36 AM
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By Fred Guzman

In this case, you can believe the hype. The EA Sports Maui Invitational is truly the premier early-season tournament in college basketball.

Four of the teams entered in last November’s three-day event at the Lahaina Civic Center earned berths in the current NCAA Division-I men’s basketball tournament.

Two of them, U-Conn and Kentucky advanced to the Sweet 16. Fittingly, they also met in the most recent Maui final, with the Huskies riding the shooting of guard Kemba Walker for the title.  U-Conn will meet San Diego State in Thursday’s West regional semifinal in Anaheim while Kentucky will face top overall seed Ohio Stat on Friday in the East regional semifinal in Newark.

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Two others MIT participants, Michigan State and Washington, were eliminated in the second around.

And even the tournament host, Chaminade, received a bid to the D-II tournament, losing in the opening round to Dixie State of Utah.

If you think that’s impressive, consider the amazing field that’s lined up for this year’s MIT on Nov. 21, 22 and 23.

All eight teams entered qualified for their respective NCAA tournaments this season, led by a pair of No. 1 seeds in defending national champion Duke and Kansas.

Those two powerhouses will be joined by Georgetown, Memphis, Michigan, Tennessee and UCLA, as well as Chaminade.

Going into this year’s Big Dance, teams that have competed in the Maui Invitational have won an 61 of 72 NCAA titles and 237 of 288 Final Four teams over the years have taken part in the MIT.

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