There is still excitement galore when looking ahead to the season. This has been an offseason with lots of firsts, rule changes, coaching moves and player transfers.
There was more news when the Maui Jim Maui Invitational announced its bracketTuesday. My friends, this field is loaded. I love it when quality matchups take place early in the season, giving an indication of the teams' strengths and weaknesses.
The first round featuresKansas against Chaminade, UCLA taking on UNLV, St. John's facing Vanderbilt and Indiana matching up against Wake Forest. These eight have combined for 20 national championships and 47 Final Four appearances.
This tournament has so many interesting facets to it. Four of the winningest programs in Division I college basketball history are in this field (No. 2 Kansas, 2,153 wins; No. 7 UCLA, 1,803 wins; No. 8 St. John's, 1,795 wins; No. 10 Indiana, 1,756 wins.) You have great former players patrolling the sidelines in Danny Manning (Wake Forest), Steve Alford (UCLA) and Chris Mullin (St. John's). Imagine if they took the court.
There is a lot of talent when looking at these squads. Guys Like Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden Jr. and Frank Mason III of Kansas; Yogi Ferrell and a healthy James Blackmon Jr. of Indiana; Bryce Alford of UCLA;Damian Jones of Vanderbilt; and Devin Thomas of Wake Forest will shine.
You could see Alford face his alma mater in Indiana and Manning face his alma mater in Kansas.
It should be a fun tournament to watch, November 23-25 in Maui.
Maui bracket anchored by Jayhawks, Hoosiers
Andy Katz breaks down the intriguing potential matchups in this years' Maui Invitational.