By MARK ANDERSON
AP Sports Writer
The Maui Invitational will be held in Honolulu this year because of the wildfires that devastated Lahaina, where the tournament usually is played.
Games will be played at the Stan Sheriff Center on Hawaii’s campus on Nov. 20-22 and the tournament will again feature a loaded field that includes potential top-10 teams Kansas, Purdue, Gonzaga, Tennessee and Marquette. Syracuse, Chaminade and UCLA round out the field.
This is the third time in four years the tournament has had to be played somewhere other than Maui. Restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic forced tournament officials to move the event to Asheville, North Carolina, in 2020 and it was relocated to Las Vegas in 2021.
The tournament actually began in Honolulu in 1982 when Chaminade, then an NAIA school, beat top-ranked Virginia in what is still considered one of the sport’s greatest upsets.
“We are disappointed that we could not make the Lahaina Civic Center available for the Maui Invitational this year, but we are thankful the tournament is staying in Hawaii,” Maui Mayor Richard Bissen said in a statement. “We appreciate everything the Maui Invitational is doing to help Maui and its residents.”
Tickets purchased for the tournament in Maui will be honored. More tickets will go on sale next month at mauiinvitational.com. Fans who bought travel packages will be offered similar deals with Honolulu beach hotels.
Also, the Maui Invitational has launched an online auction with all proceeds going directly to relief and recovery efforts. The Hoops for ’Ohana auction is being conducted in partnership with the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund.
Items include autographed basketballs and game tickets, game-used memorabilia and the official Maui Invitational surfboards from 2006-18 that were signed by tournament coaches such Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Kansas’ Bill Self and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo.
The confirmed death toll from last month’s wildfires that tore apart the historic town of Lahaina is 115 people, the nation’s deadliest in more than a century. More than 60 people are still missing.
The Maui Invitational, one of college basketball’s premier events, has long been a source of pride in Lahaina, also a major tourist destination. This year’s tournament field is impressive even by the event’s high standards with the teams having combined for 17 national championships.
“The Maui Invitational is a great event that celebrates all of Hawaii,” Hawaii Governor Josh Green said in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming players, staff and fans to Oahu and using the tournament and its international TV audience as a way to bring attention to and raise funds for Maui recovery efforts.”
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll