Earlier this afternoon, the matchups for the 2012 Maui Invitational were announced.
And I have to admit, I am not a fan of the outcome.
First things first: the bracket. North Carolina takes on Mississippi State with the winner advancing to play the winner of Butler and Marquette. In the other games, Illinois will play USC while Texas takes on Chaminade.
I have no problems with North Carolina and Texas finding themselves on opposite sides of the bracket. They are the two largest -- if not the two most well-known -- programs in the event. They also are probably the two teams with the most NBA potential on their rosters. I also have no issue with Texas drawing the Division II host Silverswords, either.
My issue is with the first round game between Butler and Marquette.
I don’t think it is crazy to say that, come March, the Bulldogs and the Golden Eagles will be the two best teams that took part in this event. Butler shouldn’t be a secret at this point. They return everyone except Ronald Nored from last season’s youthful, but talented, roster while adding sharpshooters Rotnei Clark (the Arkansas transfer) and Kellen Dunham to a team whose biggest flaw was their struggles from the perimeter. They have high-major size, shooting and athleticism. If Chrishawn Hopkins and/or Jackson Aldridge can solidify the point guard spot, Brad Stevens’ team has a chance to win the Atlantic 10.
Marquette probably won’t win the Big East this season -- the favorite is undoubtedly Louisville -- but they certainly are a darkhorse Final Four contender. Their back court will be made up of Trent Lockett, Junior Cadougan and Vander Blue even if Todd Mayo never makes it back from suspension. Their front court of Davante Gardner, Chris Otule, Steve Taylor, Jamil Wilson and Juan Anderson certainly isn’t slacking, either.
This game has the potential to be one of the best games of the regular season.
And these two teams play in the first game of the first round.
At 10:30 am on a Monday time.
What a waste.