Bracket Games: UNC, Oregon headline Maui Invitational
With Dillon Brooks expected to play for Oregon, and North Carolina again looking like a potential No. 1 seed, the Ducks and Tar Heels are solid favorites to win this year’s Maui Invitational. Wisconsin could be sleeper. We’ll see how the Badgers respond following a loss at Creighton during the Gavitt Tip-Off Games.
On the flip side, Connecticut and Georgetown arrive a bit wounded. The Huskies, a preseason Top 25 team, opened their 2016-17 campaign by losing to Wagner and Northeastern at home. If there’s a bright spot, UConn avoided an 0-3 start by winning a road game at Loyola-Marymount on their way to the islands. As for Georgetown, the Hoyas followed up a one-point loss to Maryland by dropping home game to Arkansas State. Next up? The Hoyas play aforementioned Oregon. A loss would bump them into the loser’s bracket and make it much tougher to leave Hawaii with a signature win.
Bracket Takes on the 2016 Maui Invite:
- Favorite: North Carolina – The Tar Heels have dominated their first four opponents, including a 40-point home win over a solid Chattanooga squad.
- Contenders: Oregon and Wisconsin – With Dillon Brooks, the Ducks are a potential Final Four team. The Badgers are always a tough out. Assuming both advance, their semifinal matchup in the winner’s bracket will be worth watching.
- Dark Horse: Oklahoma State – The Cowboys can score the ball, averaging over 100 points a game through their first three contests. Jawun Evans and Phil Forte, III are legit threats. If they face Carolina in the semifinals, the Pokes’ lack of size could be an issue.
- Opportunity Knocks: Georgetown and Connecticut. As noted above, the Huskies and Hoyas could each use a signature victory. The Hoyas open with Oregon; the Huskies with Oklahoma State.
On a side note, this will be North Carolina’s seventh appearance at the Maui Invitational, and sixth appearance for coach Roy Williams, the most all-time. Tennessee coach Rick Barnes is the first to coach to lead a third team to Maui (Providence, Texas).