UNC Basketball: 2016 Maui Invitational Preview
The Maui Invitational once again has a loaded field which includes a UNC basketball program that is looking to take home the trophy for the fourth time.
Entering Maui, the Tar Heels are 4-0 but will face their toughest test during the three day tournament leading up to Thanksgiving.
North Carolina, led by junior point guard Joel Berry II, is coming off of a 83-68 win against Hawaii on Friday night and enter Monday with a lot of confidence.
Being that this is one of the most balanced teams in Roy Williams’ UNC era, five players are averaging double figures with Berry leading the team with 16.5 points per game.
The Tar Heels will take on host team Chaminade on Monday at approximately 11:30 pm EST (6:30 pm Hawaiian Time).
Here is a look at the schedule for the rest of the bracket Now, lets take a look at the other teams competing in this years Maui Invitational.
Tennessee Volunteers (1-1)
Coach: Rick Barnes
Preseason Conference Rank: 13
First Round Matchup: Wisconsin
Rick Barnes brings a young and inexperienced team into Maui. After dropping their first game of the year to Chattanooga (82-69), they bounced back with a 103-94 victory over Appalachian State.
They return their third leading scorer from last year’s team, Robert Hubbs III, who is averaging 13.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. He is second on the team behind freshman guard Jordan Bone who is averaging 14 points and 4.5 assists.
Shooting less than 26percent from three point range thus far and having a 1:1 assist to turnover ratio surely won’t help their cause against a veteran Wisconsin team starting four seniors.
Wisconsin Badgers (2-1)
Coach: Greg Gard
Conference: Big Ten
Preseason Conference Rank: 2
First Round Matchup: Tennessee
Their lone loss coming to a tough Creighton team on the road, they returned to the win column beating Chicago St, their last tune up before Maui.
After taking over midway through last season for Bo Ryan, Greg Gard took the Badgers from a middle of the pack Big Ten team, all the way to the Elite Eight. Returning all five starters, as well as their top four contributors from the bench, Wisconsin looks primed for a year atop the Big Ten standings.
Struggling so far, Hayes is averaging 11 points per game and shooting only 38% from the field.
The Badgers will go as far as Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Nigel Hayes and fellow starter Bronson Koenig take them.
Being the only two players averaging double figures through their first three games, Wisconsin will look to get help from forward Ethan Happ who is shooting 77% from the field, good enough for third in the conference.
Georgetown Hoyas (1-2)
Coach: John Thompson III
Conference: Big East
Preseason Conference Rank: 4
First Round Matchup: Oregon
Led by Transfer guard Rodney Pryor, the Hoyas enter Maui with a sour taste in their mouth.
What should be an undefeated team, Georgetown collapsed in the last 30 seconds of their game on Tuesday against Maryland to lose the game. They then turned around and lost at home to Arkansas State.
The two-headed backcourt attack of Pryor and L.J. Peak accounts for 42percent of the Hoyas scoring and will look to continue their hot start against a top ranked Oregon team.
Georgetown will use their physical play that has benefited them so far this year. With almost as many free throws attempted as field goals, and connecting on 79 percent of them, look for the Hoyas to visit the free throw line many times throughout the game.
With the strength’s of both teams coming from their wings, whoever wins the inside battle will have a great chance at winning the game.
Oregon Ducks (2-1)
Coach: Dana Altman
Conference: Pac 12
Preseason Conference Rank: 1
First Round Matchup: Georgetown
Still without Preseason All-American Dillon Brooks, the Ducks come into Maui looking to get into a good offensive groove.
Brooks, who averaged 16.7 points 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists last year, has been practicing for the past couple weeks and going through the pre-game warmups with the team but has still yet to be cleared to play.
Without Brooks, Oregon has turned to sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey and senior forward Chris Boucher. Averaging 12.7 ppg and only shooting 38 percent, Dorsey has yet to be the go-to guy they thought he could be.
Boucher, on the other hand, leads the team with 17 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Working on his shot in the offseason, he leads the team shooting 42percent from three.
With no timetable when they will get Brooks back, Oregon needs one of their three guards (Tyler Dorsey, Dylan Ennis, Payton Pritchard) to step into that lead guard role.
Oklahoma State Cowboys (3-0)
Coach: Brad Underwood
Conference: Big 12
Preseason Conference Rank: 7
First Round Matchup: Uconn
Coming into Maui averaging 107 point per game, good enough for second in the country, scoring will not be an issue for the Cowboys.
All three scorers in double figures for the Cowboys come from their backcourt. Jawun Evans, 23.3 points per game, has been the one getting things started early in games as he is shooting 63% from the field. He will be an issue for whichever Uconn player guards him as he also averages 4 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game.
His fellow backcourt starter, fifth year senior, Phil Forte III comes in averaging 22 points per game. With 67% of his shot attempts coming from beyond the arc, Forte will be running around screens all day trying to get an open look.
Jeffrey Carroll, averaging 18.7 points and 8 rebounds, is a very versatile guard who will cause many matchup problems for the smaller guards of Uconn. Also shooting above 40 percent from three, Carroll will be the main x factor for the Cowboys.
Uconn Huskies (1-2)
Coach: Kevin Ollie
Preseason Conference Rank: 2
First Round Matchup: Oklahoma State
What was a preseason top 15 team is now a team looking for an identity. Losing to Wagner and Northeastern before beating Loyola Marymount by only three points has many Uconn fans scratching their heads.
Much like their first round opponent, Oklahoma State, their three double digit scorers come from their backcourt.
Led by Terry Larrier, 16.7 points per game, the Huskies have very little depth or size. The 6-8 192-pound guard is also second on the team in rebounding (5.7) and assists (2.3).
With freshman point guard Alterique Gilbert questionable with a shoulder injury, look for senior Rodney Purvis to get more opportunities all week long.
Averaging only 5.7 points per game this year, down from 12.8 last year, the Huskies need him to get more involved if they want to live up to their preseason hype.
Their lone big man, Amida Brimah, has not been a major part of the dysfunctional offense thus far.
With the lack of size for Oklahoma State, Brimah should be able to control the boards and give a struggling offense more opportunities.
Coach: Eric Bovaird
First Round Matchup: North Carolina
The host team for the Maui Invitational, the Silverswords are faced with an almost impossible task of beating North Carolina.
Chaminade, a Division II university, has an all-time Maui record of 7-87, so expecting them to compete with the Tar Heels is not very realistic.
Led by Rohndell Goodwin, 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game, the Silverswords will once again play underdog role in every matchup they play in Maui.