College basketball returns to Lahaina Civic Center for 31st run
LAHAINA – The 31st Maui Jim Maui Invitational Basketball Tournament that contributes an estimated $13 million to the local economy and brings sights of Maui to viewers on ESPN worldwide tips off Nov. 13, as eight teams vie for the championship. Coaches acclaim the tournament as one of the best in the nation.
The opening bracket pits St. John’s University vs. Vanderbilt beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 23, at Lahaina Civic Center, followed by Wake Forest vs. Indiana at noon, Kansas vs. Chaminade at 4 p.m. and UNLV vs. UCLA at 6:30 p.m.
Tournament organizers have a strong record of selecting top teams that often go on to make a big splash in the annual NCAA Tournament in March. In preseason polls, Kansas is ranked number four and Indiana 15.
Teams who have played in the invitational’s final championship game have gone on to win 20 national championships, including 11 from this year’s tournament entry UCLA, and 47 over the years who made trips to college basketball’s final four.
The tournament has a new sponsor this year, Lahaina’s Maui Jim, the famous polarized sunglasses maker that got its start in Maui. The new sponsor succeeds EA Sports. In a new wrinkle, Maui Jim will also sponsor a Thansgiving Day golf tournament.
Honolulu-based Chaminade University, a co-sponsor whose team plays ever year, will try to duplicate its upset a number of years ago of a top ten team.
To join hundreds of basketball fans wearing colorful garb who line up for each game, residents can purchase ticket packages online or single game tickets that go on sale beginning at 9 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 20, and will be available all weekend at Lahaina Civic Center while supplies last.
Those without tickets can go to a concession stand area featuring food from popular Lahaina restaurants behind the Civic Center and watch games on giant TV screens. Local musicians will provide entertainment.
Preceding the event on Sunday, coaches will join students from local schools in a free throw contest along Kaanapali Beach. A contribution is given to participating schools.
The free throwing prowess of the coaches is usually as varied as the schools themselves. Some coaches played basketball in college and have an advantage over those who didn’t. The most impressive coach to step up to the free throw line in recent years was the legendary Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) of Duke, who sank all three. No coach has duplicated that for at least three years.
Visit www.MauiInvitational.com for information.