When most people hear “Maui,” several images immediately enter their minds: 10,000-foot Haleakala and its spectacular sunrises, verdant Iao Valley, the crystal-clear waters of Molokini islet and the world-famous “Road to Hana,” to name a few. But for one action-packed week each November, Maui becomes the center of the college basketball world.
The EA SPORTS Maui Invitational is a three-day, eight-team tournament featuring some of the premier schools in NCAA basketball. Jim O’Connell, AP college basketball editor, has called the event “the best in-season tournament in the country, the standard by which all others are compared.” The games are played at the Lahaina Civic Center in historic Lahaina town.
The tournament originated in 1984 with Chaminade University serving as the tournament’s permanent host. Although an NCAA Division II school, Chaminade has been known to pull off the occasional upset (the Silverswords shocker over top-ranked Virginia in 1982 is still considered by many to be the greatest upset in college basketball history).
Over the years, perennial powerhouses such as Duke, North Carolina, Michigan, Kansas, UNLV, Indiana, Syracuse, Arizona, Kentucky, Maryland, UCLA, Florida, Connecticut and Louisville have made the trip to Maui. Overall, EA SPORTS Maui Invitational teams comprise an astonishing 195 of 264 Final Four teams, 50 of 66 national runner-up spots and 50 of 66 NCAA champions. Every NCAA champion since 1983 has scored on Maui.
Celebrating its 25th year in collegiate basketball, the 2008 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational signals the start of the college basketball season as Alabama, Indiana, Oregon, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Saint Joseph’s and Texas join host Chaminade to round out a star-studded field November 24-26 at Maui’s intimate 2,400-seat Lahaina Civic Center.
If you can’t make it to Maui, catch the live broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.