Zags Face Colorado In EA Sports Maui Invitational Opener
Aug. 4, 2009
MAUI, Hawaii - Gonzaga University will meet the University of Colorado in the opening game of the 26th annual EA SPORTS Maui Invitational men's basketball tournament to be played Nov. 23-25 at the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui, Hawai'i.
The eight-team bracket was announced Tuesday.
This will be Gonzaga's third trip to the Maui Invitational, the Bulldogs finishing second in 2005 and going 1-2 in their first trip in 2002. The 2005 tourney featured the Bulldogs 109-106 triple-overtime win over Michigan State University in the semifinals, still one of the most talked-about matchups in Maui history. Gonzaga fell to the University of Connecticut 65-63 in the title game.
A strong field of former national champions including the University of Arizona, University of Cincinnati, University of Maryland and the University of Wisconsin will join Vanderbilt University, tournament host Chaminade University of Honolulu and the Zags and Buffaloes to compete for the coveted Wayne Duke Championship Trophy.
The Zags and Buffs will tip off the tournament at noon Pacific Time (10 a.m. in Maui) in the Monday, Nov. 23 opener to be televised on ESPN2. The winner will face the Arizona-Wisconsin winner at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time Tuesday on ESPN, the losers of those two brackets squaring off at 1 p.m. PT on ESPN2.
The championship game will be Wednesday at 7 p.m. PT on ESPN.
Gonzaga and Colorado will be meeting for the second time on the hardwood, and the first meeting also came on the islands, the Buffaloes taking an 81-77 victory in the 1999 Outrigger Rainbow Classic in Honolulu. That Colorado team included Richard Fox, who transferred to Gonzaga the following year and is now the color analyst on the Bulldog radio network. Colorado will be making its first Maui Invitational appearance.
Following the Gonzaga-CU contest, Mick Cronin's Cincinnati Bearcats, which have finished in the Top 10 of the final polls in seven of the past 13 years, will go against former SEC Coach of the Year Kevin Stallings and Vanderbilt, winner of three SEC regular-season titles. Host school Chaminade will battle in game three as Matt Mahar, the winningest coach in the school's history by percentage, leads the home state Silverswords against former national champion Maryland steered by legendary coach and Maryland alumnus Gary Williams. Williams has led the Terrapins to 13 NCAA Tournaments berths in 16 years, including seven Sweet Sixteen appearances, a pair of consecutive Final Four showings and the 2002 national championship. Game four pairs newly-named head coach Sean Miller guiding former national champion Arizona, a team that has reached the NCAA Tournament for 25 consecutive years, against the Big Ten's Wisconsin Badgers, the Bo Ryan-led team looking to bring home a piece of Maui glory.
Two former Maui champions, Arizona (2000) and Vanderbilt (1986) will return to the islands in search of another Maui title and early-season bragging rights. Four of the seven Division I teams in the 2009 lineup participated in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, highlighted by runs to the Sweet Sixteen by Arizona and Gonzaga. In all, 85 schools representing 21 conferences and 38 states have competed in the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational, with Maui participants having won an astounding 55 of 71 NCAA championships, 55 of 71 national runner-up spots and comprise 214 of 284 Final Four teams.
"This year's Tournament showcases another field of outstanding competition," said Tournament Chairman Dave Gavitt. "We will celebrate the 26th annual tournament with a powerhouse field. College basketball fans from around the globe can look forward to another remarkable week of basketball at its finest."
The ESPN networks will combine once again to offer live television coverage of all 12 Tournament games. For the first time, every game will be produced in high definition on ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD and ESPNU HD, with the ESPN and ESPN2 games also streaming live on ESPN360.com.
Beginning Tuesday at noon Pacific Time there will be a limited selection of pre-sale tickets available for one day only or until sold out via the official tournament website, www.mauiinvitational.com. Remaining game tickets including school specific booster tickets will go on sale to the general public on Thursday, Aug. 20 at noon Pacific Time via www.mauiinvitational.com. Travel packages with game tickets and hotel accommodations are currently available through Oahu Travel, the tournament's official travel agency, by calling 800.826.3822. In addition, tickets are still available for Sunday's (Nov. 22) "An Evening with the Coaches: Tip-Off Banquet," a special dinner and entertainment event with the 2009 head coaches and teams, as well as for the 6th Annual EA SPORTS Maui Golf Invitational on Thanksgiving Day. Visit the Web site's "Tickets & Travel" section for details.
For complete Tournament information, visit the official Tournament Web site at www.mauiinvitational.com or to inquire about travel packages contact Oahu Travel, the official travel agent of the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational, at 800.826.3822.
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