The 2014 Maui Invitational Bracket has a Western flavor beyond its Hawaiian home, and this handicapper shares his expert predictions for you to apply to your NCAA Basketball future picks.

The Maui Invitational has been considered the gold standard of early-season, neutral-site college basketball tournaments in recent years, but this time, the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas seems to have passed it. For one thing, the Battle 4 Atlantis bracket is extremely tough. The other part of the puzzle is that this year’s Maui field just isn’t as loaded as it used to be. The main point of interest will be if either BYU or San Diego State, whoever wins a crucial opening-round game, can make some noise and get on a roll.

 

What Does This Mean For Each Team In The Field?
The Maui Invitational always includes Chaminade, a non-Division I team in the field. Chaminade pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of college basketball in 1982, beating Ralph Sampson and a loaded Virginia team. Chaminade will occasionally upset another team at this event, but those occurrences are very rare. This is basically a seven-team event, with Chaminade being a gracious host with a team that’s happy to get big-game experience against power schools from the mainland United States. Chaminade’s first-round opponent is Pittsburgh. The Panthers got to the NCAA tournament last season, and if they can beat the BYU-San Diego State winner to get to the finals, they’ll be happy with their tournament. Pittsburgh did not win many games out of conference that were particularly challenging last season, so getting one quality win in Hawaii will be important.

BYU-San Diego State used to be a Mountain West matchup. Now, BYU is in the West Coast Conference. Still, both teams are good and expect to be tournament teams every year. BYU lost its first game in last year’s tournament, barely getting in as a 10 seed. San Diego State was a number four seed and reached the Sweet 16 before losing to Arizona. San Diego State expects to make the final in Maui. BYU would create a successful tournament if it can beat the Aztecs.

In the other half of the Maui bracket, there’s no Chaminade, just power teams. In one game, Purdue plays Kansas State. Purdue was awful for much of last season. The Boilermakers are in decline and badly need something that can get them turned around. Kansas State is a decent team, but the Wildcats made the NCAA tournament last year only because they won every big game at home. The Arizona Wildcats were terrible in road and neutral games, and they’ll have to do a little better this upcoming season if they want to be sure to get back to the tournament. Beating Purdue is very important for KSU.

In the final first-round game, Arizona plays Missouri. Arizona is a Final Four contender, while Missouri is trying to pick up the pieces with new coach Kim Anderson, who is replacing Frank Haith. Missouri wants to be able to beat Purdue or KSU in the second game and go from there. It’s hard to see how Mizzou could beat Arizona. All in all, Arizona should get to the final unless something really goes wrong.

 

How To Bet The News
Place your NCAA Basketball pick on Arizona and San Diego State unless Pittsburgh finds a way to stifle SDSU with its defense. Arizona is so deep, though, that no matter who plays the Wildcats on the other side of the bracket, coach Sean Miller’s Pac-12 juggernaut should walk away with the title in Hawaii.