The Maui Invitational unveiled the bracket for this season’s tournament on Wednesday. Due to COVID-19, the tournament will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville, NC this year. For those wishing to get a Thanksgiving vacation to Hawaii – my sincere apologies. I’ve heard Asheville is pleasant?
Obviously things will change between now and the end of November regarding this tournament actually being played, but with the bracket out we decided to do a little preview of PC’s side of the bracket.
As you can see the Friars will open up against the Indiana Hoosiers on November 30th at 2:30pm. It will be the second time in history that the Friars and Hoosiers would square off, the first being the runner up game of the 1973 Final Four where IU would defeat PC 97-79.
Indiana had a decent season last year and were in line to earn an at large bid, despite finishing 9-11 in the Big Ten. This year the Hoosiers return freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis, 13.5 ppg 8.4 rpg. The 6’9 lefty big should be atop the scouting report for PC. Nate Watson, Noah Horchler and co should have their hands full with the skilled post player. We’ve been waiting for Watson to make a leap, all while seeing what Horchler can bring to the team, so going up against TJD should be a great litmus test.
Last season Archie Miller had to deal with losing star freshman Romeo Langford due the NBA Draft. This year he won’t have to deal with that problem as he was able to land 5-star guard prospect Khristian Lander. Lander is ranked the 27th prospect in the 2020 class according to 247Sports. The guard was ranked the 6th best point guard in the class and the #1 player in the state of Indiana, where Miller has done a good job recruiting. While an immense talent, be reclassified a year early, stating he wanted to play alongside Jackson-Davis before J-D goes to The League.
Matching up against a seasoned, veteran point guard in Bynum and top tier defensive guard in David Duke this early in the season will likely lead to some careless turnovers and sloppy player from Lander. This is a match-up most Friar fans should be happy is happening at the start of the season rather than end, where Lander will inevitably have more experience.
The Hoosiers also will feature two familiar names for Friartown. Big man Joey Brunk will be entering his redshirt senior season. If you remember Brunk, he played for Butler for a few years before transferring to IU. Another name is incoming freshman Jordan Geronimo. Geronimo is a 6-6 wing from New Hampshire that the Friars offered but were never heavily involved with the prospect. Geronimo is a product of the Mass Rivals AAU program.
Like the Friars, IU has been known for their defense more than their offense the past couple of seasons. I expect a potential rock fight on our hands in the opening game of the Maui. The winner will take on the winner of Texas and Davidson.
The Friars are coming off a home and home sweep of the Longhorns as the Friars beat UT 70-48 last December. Despite rumors of Shaka Smart being on the hot seat, he will return to the Longhorns sidelines this season. perhaps because he’s consistently landed NBA prospects on the recruiting trail. This season will be no different as Smart brings in the #6 rated recruit in Greg Brown. The 6-9 forward has eye-popping athleticism and a skilled ball handler for a big man. He is one of the newcomers that I’m most excited to watch in college hoops.
Brown joins a solid core return for the Longhorns including Andrew Jones, Matt Coleman and Courtney Ramey. It will be interesting to see if Shaka can turn the talent into wins, which has been a struggle as of late.
Davidson had a lot of expectations entering the 2019-2020 season and truly failed to live up to them. The Wildcats finished 16-14 (10-8 in A-10) and on top of that lose one of their top players Jon Axel Gudmundson. The good news for Davidson is that leading scorer Kellan Grady (17.2 ppg) will return for his senior season. Bob McKillop usually has a well coached squad that spreads the floor and rips a bunch of threes and expect the same this year.
Rounding out the other side of the bracket UNC will play UNLV and the winner will face the winner of Stanford and Alabama.
The Titus & Tate podcast did a bracket reveal and broke down the games. Disclaimer: they have the Friars falling in the first game.
BOC Prediction: The Friars take down Indiana in an ugly offensive game, setting up a meeting against Texas. Texas has too much talent for the Friars and wins that semifinal match. Texas then matches up against UNC in the finals, who coasted to this championship game. Texas surprisingly takes down UNC to win the Maui Invitational. Hook em!
– The Crier