Everyday I will give a new reason to be pumped for the upcoming college basketball season. We are about 79 days from the start of meaningful college basketball.
Today's reason to be pumped for basketball season: The Maui Invitational
Every season numerous early season tournaments provide the majority of the best non-conference games of year. This year will be no different.
The Maui Invitational, the premiere non-conference tournament will showcase two of America's very best teams. Two teams that could easily meet each other in the National Championship game.
Yesterday in my countdown to college basketball season, I gave a brief preview of those two teams, North Carolina and Notre Dame, and explained why they are title contenders.
The Tar Heels and Fighting Irish are on opposite sides of the bracket, but both should easily cruise to the finals.
The opening round will feature a St. Joe's team that could be looking at a down year against Texas who will still be a top 15 team despite the loss of D.J. Augustin. The winner of that game (probably Texas) will tip off against the winner of the Indiana and Notre Dame. The Irish should easily win this game considering I'm not sure if Indiana will have enough players to field a team after the max exodus from Bloomington in the off-season.
On the other half of the bracket, UNC is against Chaminade while Oregon faces Alabama. Oregon graduated three players that are on the court at least 75% of the time so an improvement of their 18-13 record isn't likely. Alabama returns much of a fairly young team that finish 17-16. Look for a Crimson Tide Victory there.
In the semifinals, I'll take North Carolina and Notre Dame. UNC will be favored in their semifinal by at least 10 points probably while Notre Dame will be favored by somewhere in between five and eight points against Texas.
UNC and Notre Dame in the finals is pure college basketball bliss. Luke Harangody meet Tyler Hansbrough. Kyle McAlarney meet Wayne Ellington. Tory Jackson meet Ty Lawson. Get to know each other, you might just meet again late in the NCAA Tournament. UNC has better depth and will take the Maui Invitational Title back to Chapel Hill.
So reason 79 you should be pumped for the college basketball season: the potential preview of the NCAA Tournament final during the Maui Invitational.