College Basketball's Mecca tournament will be on display starting tomorrow when seven elusive basketball programs will take the trek over the pacific Ocean to to the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui during the next few days.
The Lahaina Civic Center is a Cousy 2,000 seat basketball arena that has not only the best basketball atmosphere in North America but maybe one of the best sporting atmosphere in all of North America. If you are a college basketball fan, getting to the Maui Invitational is a must on your bucket list.
In 2011, I was fortunate enough to find the Civic Center when I was in Hawaii. It was July, so there wasn't any basketball games on that time, however it is still pretty cool to walk on the floor.
This years field features three top 10 teams spanning over seven of the NCAA's top conferences and two past champions in the tournaments history.
The tournament began in 1984 when in 1982 Chaminade upset powerhouse Virginia triggering a annual tournament that invites seven top basketball teams to play on the few days prior to American Thanksgiving.
Not only is it a huge basketball week for Maui, it is also a major tourism week for the island as well. Thousands and thousands of fans flock to Hawaii this week to enjoy an extended Thanksgiving. Lets be honest, combining beaches with basketball sounds like a pretty splendid idea.
There is just something special about what Lahaina Civic Center offers. A once in a lifetime experience happens if your son happens to be playing in the tournament. There is really nothing in sports that comes close to it. Lots of great teams, players and coaches have been to the tournament.
This years tournament has the likes of Tennessee, Wisconsin, Oregon, G'Town, Oklahoma State, and Uconn. All seven teams have March Madness aspirations and a win this week against a top team could go a long way if any of these teams are sitting on the bubble come Selection Sunday.
The other team that completes the field is host Chaminade. They play in Division II and are 7-78 all time in the Tournament. One day, I hope they make the move to Division I one day. As of now, the school is known for one thing, "the Maui Invitational" but that just adds to the uniqueness of the tournament.
The Maui Invitational is something I would love to go to one day. For the next few days however, I'll enjoy this years tournament on TV listening to Bill Walton's always entertaining play by play.