Your Guide To The 2019 Maui Invitational

Michigan State faces some solid competition in the Pacific.

97.1 The Ticket
November 24, 2019 - 7:50 pm
Cassius Winston

(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

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By Kyle Beery 97.1 The Ticket

The glory of “Feast Week” has finally arrived. As teams all across the country head off to play in countless Thanksgiving-week tournaments, the most prestigious of them all -- Maui Invitational -- features quite the field and a very intriguing potential championship game.

No. 3 Michigan State enters the tournament looking to bolster its early-season resume that already features a road win at No. 13 Seton Hall. The Spartans (3-1), like every team at this stage in the season, are still trying to work out some kinks, though that win over the Pirates brought some clarity to their identity. MSU looks to be perhaps the deepest team in all of college basketball and freshmen Rocket Watts and Malik Hall are just getting going.

As Cassius Winston looks to chip away at what it will take to become the first player in the sport’s history to reach the career marks of 2,000 points and 1,000 assists, Michigan State has a pair of solid opponents on the docket in Maui before a potential meeting with Kansas in the finale.

Here’s your guide to the 2019 Maui Invitational.

Bracket

Georgia

The Bulldogs, with former Indiana head coach Tom Crean in his second year leading the program, are beginning to form a solid identity. Star freshman Anthony Edwards, an under-the-radar candidate for national player of the year, is averaging 19 points, six rebounds and four assists per game through four outings.

Edwards alone makes the Dawgs worth watching, but he’s got a solid cast around him with Rayshaun Hammonds (17.3 RPG, 11.0 RPG) and outside shooter Tyree Crump that could turn Georgia into an NCAA Tournament team by the time March comes around.

Dayton

The Flyers probably open Maui as the team we know the least about. Though they’re 3-0, they haven’t faced a true challenge yet, but Anthony Grant’s team was picked to finish 3rd in a solid A-10, per the preseason poll.

Obi Toppin, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, was named 1st team all-conference in the preseason and he’s lived up to that billing through three games. He’s averaging 23.7 points and 9.7 rebounds a game and he could cause Georgia absolute fits in the tournament’s opening game.

Virginia Tech

The Hokies had asserted themselves as a consistent top-half program in the ACC under Buzz Williams, but with the departures of Williams and big man Kerry Blackshear in the offseason, it’s back to square one under Mike White. The former Wofford coach has Tech at 5-0 with a decent win at Clemson to begin the season.

Virginia Tech has quite the stable of 3-point shooters, with Naheim Alleyne (44.4%) and P.J. Horne (47.1) leading the way. The Hokies hit a school record 21 3-pointers in their last game against Delaware State and are shooting 42.2% as a team. Young comes to Blacksburg having coached a Fletcher Magee-led Wofford team that averaged 41% on more than 26 3-point attempts per game last season.

Chaminade

The darlings of the Maui Invitational. For the first time ever last fall, the Division-II Silverswords did not compete in the tournament, which was partially born out of their historic upset of Ralph Sampson’s Virginia in 1982, when they were members of the NAIA. Chaminade will now play in the invitational every other year after a change to the tournament last year. Don’t expect the local favorites to re-create any of that 1982 magic this year.

No. 4 Kansas

The Jayhawks looked pretty rough in their season-opening loss against Duke in the Champions Classic, when they managed to hang close with the Blue Devils in spite of 28 turnovers. In the three games since, they’ve had a total of 32 turnovers and Iowa transfer Isaiah Moss is emerging as a solid 3-point shooter.

Big men Udoka Azubuike and Silvio DeSousa are both finally eligible and healthy at the same time, though Bill Self is still trying to find that sweet spot of how to get both guys meaningful minutes without them bogging things down on the floor at the same time. Michigan State could get the Jayhawks in the championship game, meaning they would face each of the other top four teams in the preseason AP Top 25 by early December – a date with now-No. 1 Duke awaits at the Breslin Center on Dec. 4

BYU

The Cougars are quietly trying to play their way into NCAA Tournament contention, though a pair of losses to two of the Mountain West’s best teams (San Diego State and Boise State) may not look so great on the resume.

T.J. Haws hit a buzzer beater to lift his team over Houston on the road, but if BYU really wants to be in the mix for a tournament bid, a win over UCLA is a good place to start. Doing so would be all the more impressive without their best player, Yoeli Childs, who’s out for the season’s first nine games due to suspension for violating NBA Draft protocol last spring.

UCLA

Just when things were looking up for UCLA – and the Pac-12 as a whole – the Bruins went out and lost to Hofstra. At home. On the same night conference companions Washington State and Utah lost to Nebraska-Omaha and Coastal Carolina, respectively. Not the greatest start to the Mick Cronin era in Westwood.

The Bruins have had their fair share of struggles from 3-point range to begin the year, but Tyger Campbell is developing into a solid distributor and 6-foot-10 sophomore Jalen Hill is turning out to be pretty reliable down low. The nightcap Monday (11:30 p.m. ET) looks to be an important one for both teams to try and get back on track.