2011 Maui Invitational Preview and Predictions


maui invitational logo

Break out the Hawaiian shirts…  The Maui Invitational always seems to be the cream of the college basketball Thanksgiving tournament crop and this year is no different with five preseason Top 25 teams in the field including three of the top programs of all time; Duke, Kansas, and UCLA.  Last year, it was the coming out party for UConn’s Kemba Walker.  Which player and team will steal the spotlight at the 2011 Maui Invite?  Here is a breakdown and my predictions for how the bracket will unfold.

QUARTERFINALS (Monday):
Memphis vs. Michigan, 2:00 pm, ESPN2

What to Watch:
With their depth and athleticism, the Tigers are going to try and run, run, and run some more.  The Wolverines want to slow it down and keep things in the half-court so whichever team can control the tempo will have the advantage.  Michigan has a tendency to live and die with the three ball and haven’t shot it real well at the start of the season, connecting on just 22 of their 73 attempts.

Prediction: Memphis 77, Michigan 69

Duke vs. Tennessee, 4:30 pm, ESPN2

What to Watch:
How many times will we have to hear that Coach K. just broke the all-time wins record?  How many cutaways of Doc Rivers and Dell Curry will we see?  How many mention of the Plumlee brothers will there be?  Duke is quickly becoming my least favorite team for those three reasons.  They still have a ton more talent than Tennessee who is under first year head coach Cuonzo Martin.  Keep an eye on the Vols’ Trae Golden who is averaging 23 points, 10 assists, and 4.5 rebounds through two games.

Prediction: Duke 80, Tennessee 67

coach k bob knight

UCLA vs. Chaminade, 8:30 pm, ESPNU

What to Watch:
The Bruins opened their season with back-to-back embarrassing, double digit home losses to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee.  Reeves Nelson was briefly suspended due to a poor attitude but will suit up in Maui.  If the Bruins lose this one, Ben Howland might as well just start cleaning his office.

Prediction: UCLA 88, Chaminade 64

Kansas vs. Georgetown, 11:00 pm, ESPN2

What to Watch:
Both teams are down from what they have been the past few years as they have new faces adjusting to much bigger roles this season.  I think the Jayhawks will be the aggressors, play tougher and more physical than the Hoyas which will ultimately give them the edge.

Prediction: Kansas 68, Georgetown 63

SEMIFINALS (Tuesday):
Memphis vs. Duke, 6:00 pm, ESPN

What to Watch:
There is a ton of athleticism in this game and it should be a fairly up and down affair.  The Blue Devils have a ton of shooters on the wing but will need the Plumlee brothers to be a factor down low.  Turnovers were a huge issue for Memphis last season, but they looked more mature in their opener against Belmont and will hope to play fast, but also smart.  I think this is the real championship game of the tourney and I’m going to roll the dice.

Prediction: Memphis 83, Duke 81

UCLA vs. Kansas, 8:30 pm, ESPN

What to Watch:
As expected, the Bruins guard play has been very shaky so far while KU has gotten solid production from Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson.  The Jayhawks don’t have a ton of depth in the frontcourt while that is UCLA’s strength.  If Thomas Robinson can stay out of foul trouble, Kansas should advance to the title game.

Prediction: Kansas 73, UCLA 60

FIFTH PLACE GAME (Wednesday)
Michigan vs. Georgetown, 4:00, ESPN2

What to Watch:
For the record, assuming Michigan and Tennessee both lose their openers, they will have a rematch in the consolation bracket of last year’s NCAA Tournament game in which the Wolverines whipped the Volunteers by 30.  Michigan vs. Georgetown should be a grind it out, half-court affair.

Prediction: Michigan 57, Georgetown 55

THIRD PLACE GAME (Wednesday):
Duke vs. UCLA, 6:30, ESPN2

What to Watch:
UCLA uses 6-10 David Wear as their starting small forward while Duke starts a three-guard line-up meaning 6-4 Austin Rivers or 6-4 Andre Dawkins will have to play bigger defensively.  Joshua Smith has a major size advantage inside over the Blue Devil bigs but the Plumlee’s and Ryan Kelly both run the floor very well which make Smith a huge liability on the defensive end.

Prediction: Duke 85, UCLA 67

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Wednesday):
Memphis vs. Kansas, 9:00 pm, ESPN

What to Watch:
Maybe I was overly impressed by the Tigers’ win against Belmont in their opener, but I think Memphis’ depth is going to be a huge asset in Maui.  Josh Pastner can go 10 deep on his bench while Kansas is very thin and could easily have no legs playing their third game in three days.  The “mid-major” represents against some of the big boys…

Prediction: Memphis 74, Kansas 62

TOURNAMENT MVP: Will Barton

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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Comments

  1. my prediction for the KU, G-Town game was 68-63… final was 67-63… damn…

    makes up for me picking Memphis to win it all and them losing in the first game… ha

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