The Arizona Wildcats will be part of a loaded field in the 2018 Jim Maui Invitational, it was announced Wednesday.
The 35-year-old event will also feature Auburn, Duke, Gonzaga, Illinois, Iowa State, San Diego State, Xavier, the first time that eight Division I teams will compete. Host Chaminade, a lower-division school, will be playing in an opening round separate from the main event.
Arizona’s participation has already been known, but now we know all the potential competition.
A few things about the field. For starters, Duke. Arizona fans love to see the Wildcats play Duke.
There is a great history of great games between the programs since the late 1980s (when Sean Elliott and Danny Ferry battled it out for Player of the Year honors), stretching to a double-overtime classic at McKale in 1991 (won by Arizona) and then Duke’s 2001 victory in the national championship game (that still stings) and the “Derrick Williams Game” when the Cats shocked the Blue Devils in the Sweet 16 in Anaheim.
Arizona leads the series 5-4 overall and has gone 5-3 against coach Mike Krzyzewski.
And then there’s Xavier. Yeah, the teams played in the 2015 Sweet 16, so it wouldn’t be Sean Miller‘s first meeting against his old team, but it’s still a tasty potential matchup against a program that is a perennial threat to get to the second weekend of the NCAAs.
Gonzaga and San Diego State are familiar West Coast foes, and matchups against those schools rarely disappoint.
Illinois? Arizona fans still trying to forget 2005. Auburn? Coach Bruce Pearl could really be rolling with the Tigers by then; right now, his 2017 recruiting class is ranked third nationally by 247Sports, behind Arizona and UCLA. Iowa State? The Cyclones have been to two of the past three Sweet 16s.
The 2018 event will be played November 19-21 at Maui’s Lahaina Civic Center.
Arizona last played in the Maui Invitational in 2014, when it won it all by Missouri, Kansas State and San Diego State. UA freshman Stanley Johnson was chosen the MVP. The Wildcats also won the 2000 tournament over Illinois (Michael Wright was the MVP). Arizona lost in the 1997 Maui title game to Duke and in 1993 to Kentucky.