We have known for a long time that Marquette men’s basketball was going to the 2023 Maui Invitational. We’ve known for a while that it was shaping up to be perhaps the best field in Maui Invitational history. Now, finally, we know what MU’s path through that tournament is going to look like.
On Tuesday, the Maui Jim Maui Invitational released the bracket for the event, which will be held at the Lahaina Civic Center between November 20th and November 22nd. Your Marquette Golden Eagles will face off against UCLA in the first round. According to this helpful PDF, that game will tip off at 10:30pm Central time on November 20th, and ESPN2 will have the broadcast.
There will be three games for the Golden Eagles as part of the tournament, and a win over UCLA sends them to the championship side, while a loss to the Bruins would send them to the consolation side of the bracket. That’s where things get interesting for Marquette. A win most likely means a game against Kansas, as the Jayhawks are on Marquette’s side of the bracket, and then a third game against someone from the other side of the field: Gonzaga, Purdue, Syracuse, and Tennessee. That’s three tippy top games, no matter what.
A loss to the Bruins probably means a second round game against Chaminade before facing a team from that same four-pack in the third and final contest. All due respect to the Silverswords, but that game will have zero impact on Marquette’s NCAA tournament profile. Well, mostly no impact. Chaminade is a Division 2 team, so it won’t count towards Marquette’s NET calculations as the season goes along, and so MU would come away from this incredibly stacked competition with just two games against high level competition instead of the three that they would probably get if they beat UCLA. If Marquette would happen to lose to Chaminade, well, it would still not have an impact on the NET, but “well, they did lose to Chaminade” would assuredly be a sentence said in the selection committee room.
Of course, Marquette could always pants UCLA by 40 and Chaminade could beat Kansas, and all of this conversation about “beating UCLA will be long term important” goes right out the door. That’s why they play the games.
As much as we expect good things from Marquette in the 2023-24 season, the fact of the matter is that they’re far from favored to win the Maui Invitational. Based on the preseason projections on BartTorvik.com, the Golden Eagles are the 5th best team in the field..... and MU sits at #17 in the country at the moment. Purdue is #1, Kansas is #2, Tennessee is #6, and Gonzaga is #11. From a certain point of view, Marquette caught a break with the bracketing, as UCLA is “only” #27 in the Torvik preseason rankings. I think it’s safe to say that whoever leaves Maui with three wins and a championship trophy is going to have an inside track on a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament for the rest of the season.
Marquette caught a different kind of a break by catching UCLA in the first round. Shaka Smart has recent game film of his first Marquette team facing off against UCLA in Milwaukee. I suspect that if he shows his team any footage of that contest to show them the plays that the Bruins run, Smart will scrub the score graphics off of it, as MU was down 33-10 with 3:42 left in the first half on their way to an 11 point loss.
With the announcement of the Maui bracket, Marquette’s non-conference schedule is as finalized as it’s going to get. The only games we don’t know are Games #2 and #3 in Hawaii, and obviously those have to be determined out at the Civic Center by results on the court. The UCLA game is the first game on MU’s schedule to have a tipoff time attached to it, but that’s not surprising. We usually don’t find out start times for Marquette’s home games until the Big East releases the conference schedule just after Labor Day.
By the way, there is a sweepstakes to win tickets and a hotel stay to go see the entire Maui Invitational. Here’s the details:
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of this storied event, the Maui Jim Maui Invitational and its partners are making a trip to witness the ‘Maui Magic’ possible through the Maui Jim Maui Invitational Fan Sweepstakes. One lucky fan and a guest will receive two All-Tournament tickets, two Stadium Club hospitality passes, a five-night stay at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, 160,000 HawaiianMiles from Hawaiian Airlines, a gift card good for two pairs of Maui Jim sunglasses and an exclusive tour and lunch at Maui Brewing Company. The sweepstakes is running from July 20 - August 20, 2023. To enter, or to view the complete list of rules and regulations, fans must visit mauiinvitational.com/sweepstakes.