Arkansas Razorbacks (3-0)
All-time record in Maui: 3-3, Appearances: 2005, 1991
The Hogs were picked to finish 8th in the SEC this season and have a lot to prove in the third season of the Mike Anderson era. Arkansas was runner-ups in the 1991 Maui Invitational losing 86-71 to Michigan State in the title game. The Razorbacks’ last trip to Maui was in ’05 when they went 1-2 with a victory over Kansas. If an Arkansas loses to California and Minnesota falls to Syracuse, it will be the second time Arkansas has faced Minnesota in Maui. Nolan Richardson’s Forty Minutes of Hell took down the Golden Gophers 92-83 in the opening round of the ’91 tournament. Arkansas made the NCAA Tournament both years they played in Maui.
California Golden Bears (4-0)
All-time record in Maui: 2-1, Appearance: 1996
Cal has yet to be tested this season with an abysmal 336 non-conference strength of schedule. The Bears are picked to finish fifth in the PAC-12 this season by the media. Freshman Jabari Bird leads the team in scoring (13.5 ppg), but it will be interesting how he handles being guarded by Michael Qualls and Alandise Harris in the first round. They need a first round victory as much as Arkansas does so they can raise their poor non-conference strength of schedule.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-0)
All-time record in Maui: 2-1, Appearance: 1991
Under first year head coach Richard Pitino, the Golden Gophers are predicted to finish somewhere between seventh and 11th in the Big Ten (depends on who you ask). They already have a quality win on the road against Richmond. Minnesota is lead in scoring by Andre Hollins (18.8 ppg) and Austin Hollins (13.2 ppg), who are both from the Memphis area, but are not related.
#9 Syracuse Orange (4-0)
All-time record in Maui: 6-0, Appearances: 1998 (Champions), 1990 (Champions)
It’s scary to think there is a team in the field this year that has never lost in Maui, even though they are making their first appearance in the tournament in 15 years. There is no doubt Coach Jim Boeheim knows how to get his players ready for this tournament. Even though they had a scare against St. Francis (NY) on Nov. 18, the Orange are still the clear favorite in the tournament.
Chaminade Silverswords (2-0)
All-time record in Maui: 7-75, Appearances: Every year since 1984
The host school for the Maui Invitational, Chaminade is a Division II school that plays in the Pacific West Conference. Their most famous victory in Maui came in 1982 when, as an NAIA school, they defeated #1 Virginia. The last victory for the Silverswords came in 2012 against Texas. You can watch the highlights of them putting the whoopin’ on the Longhorns here.
#20 Baylor Bears (4-0)
All-time record in Maui: 1-2, Appearance: 1987
With wins over Colorado and South Carolina already this season, Baylor catches a break drawing host team Chaminade in the first round. The Bears were picked to finish third in the Big 12 this season behind Kansas and Oklahoma State. Sharp-shooter Brady Heslip leads Baylor in scoring (15 ppg) and shooting a lethal 52% from three-point land. As teams play more zone to adapt to the new hand-check rule, Heslip has more opportunities to rain threes.
Dayton Flyers (4-0)
All-time record in Maui: 5-1, Appearances: 2003 (Champions), 2000
Surprisingly, the Flyers have the second highest winning percentage in Maui of the teams in the field this year. Dayton was picked to finish seventh in the A-10 this season after going 17-14 (7-9 in A-10) last season. Senior forward Devin Oliver is leading the team in rebounds (7.5 rpg) and assists (2.8 apg) and second on the team in points per game (13 ppg).
#13 Gonzaga Bulldogs (4-0)
All-time record in Maui: 6-3, Appearances: 2009 (Champions), 2005, 2002
Making their fourth appearance since the turn of the century, it’s easy to say that Gonzaga is a Maui favorite. They have made it to the championship game the last two times they’ve been there. After their recent success in the NCAA Tournament, they no long fly under the radar. The Bulldogs are scoring 91.3 points per game and seventh in the nation in field goal percentage at 55%.
You can find the bracket and TV schedule at the official Maui Invitational website.