College basketball fans have a lot to look forward to this season, but some already have their sights set on 2018. The participants for the 2018 Maui Invitational were just announced and it will get any college basketball fan excited. The tournament is a mainstay, as it is a welcoming sign that the season is upon us.
The 2018 tournament has already been coined by organizers “as strong as we’ve ever had.” The 2018 field will feature Arizona, Auburn, Duke, Gonzaga, Illinois, Iowa State, San Diego State, and Xavier. Five of these eight teams are in this year’s preseason top 25, including three in the top 10: #1 Duke, #7 Xavier, and #10 Arizona.
This will be Illinois’ first appearance in the annual preseason tournament since 2012, when they defeated Butler in the championship round. This gives both Illinois and the Big Ten great opportunity to gain early national attention. The tournament is annually recognized as the top preseason tournament, as most teams are usually in position to make noise come March. Duke has won the tournament a record five times, including in their 2015 NCAA championship season.
The Maui Invitational typical format is one team from each of the power six conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC), one team from either the Atlantic 10, American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, or Mountain West Conference, and the host university Chaminade. In this year’s tournament, the Big Ten will be represented by Wisconsin, followed by Michigan in 2017. Indiana lost to Wake Forest in the first round of last year’s tournament.