In about a week, Syracuse basketball will compete in the loaded eight-team Maui Jim Maui Invitational, and a national media outlet has ranked this annual event as the best early season tournament in collegiate hoops.
Cameron Salerno, in a recent article for CBS Sports, rated the top-eight early season tournaments, and he put the 2023 Maui Invitational in the No. 1 spot.
There are numerous other enticing pre-season tourneys out there, but I do agree with Salerno that the Maui Invitational should reside in the top position, and that has little to do with my beloved Orange playing in this stacked event.
The ‘Cuse will play three games in this year’s Maui Invitational, which will take place right before the Thanksgiving holiday from November 20 to November 22 at the University of Hawaii’s SimpliFi Arena in Honolulu.
Syracuse basketball looks to remain undefeated, historically, at the Maui Invitational.
The Orange has suited up at the Maui Invitational on three other occasions, in 1990, 1998 and 2013, and the ‘Cuse has won this tourney every time that it has played in it.
If Syracuse basketball wants to keep that trend going, it will have to navigate a field that includes numerous highly rated squads.
The Orange has junior forward Benny Williams back, and the ‘Cuse is off to a 2-0 start in the young 2023-24 season under first-year head coach Adrian Autry. Syracuse basketball will host Colgate this coming Tuesday night before heading to Hawaii.
At the 2023 Maui Invitational, the ‘Cuse will first take on another Orange-clad team, Southeastern Conference member Tennessee, whose roster this season includes former long-time Syracuse basketball recruit Joseph Estrella, a 2023 four-star center out of the Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H.
The Orange is scheduled to square off against the Volunteers on Monday, Nov. 20, beginning at 2:30 pm EST on ESPN2. The ‘Cuse will then face either Purdue or Gonzaga. In the final game for Syracuse basketball at the Maui Invitational, the squad will battle Kansas, Chaminade, UCLA or Marquette.
In this past week’s Associated Press top-25 poll, here is where other teams in the Maui Invitational were rated:
•Kansas, No. 1
•Purdue, No. 3
•Marquette, No. 5
•Tennessee, No. 9
•Gonzaga, No. 11
•UCLA, receiving votes (No. 29 overall)
Playing in this tournament will prove a great experience for Syracuse basketball and its young roster, regardless of the wins or losses. I don’t think the Orange is going to cut down the nets at the Maui Invitational this season, but I do hope that the ‘Cuse puts up a good fight and prevails in a game or maybe even two.