It’s hard to think of anything better than basketball in Hawaii. Players want to play there and fans want to watch. Who wouldn’t? You’ve got games, girls and coaches in funny shirts.
Sure enough, the Maui Invitational has been bringing us excellent early season college basketball for 28 years, and 2011 was no exception with Duke topping Michigan, Memphis, Georgetown and Kansas to win the tournament for the fifth time. The event has always drawn top programs and will continue to do so.
But it turns out that the only thing that might be better than paradise is, well, Paradise.As in Paradise Island in the Bahamas, where the first annual Battle 4 Atlantis was held last week with an impressive field of its own.
Unlikely champion Harvard surprised everyone to beat Central Florida for the title, besting squads like UCONN, Florida State, UMASS and Utah. It’s not the lineup that Maui brought to the table this year, but next year’s B4A will send shivers up the organizers’ grass skirts.
The 2012 Battle 4 Atlantis field will feature a beefed up field of major national programs, from Memphis and Mizzou to Louisville and Stanford. Mid-major staples Northern Iowa and VCU will play the spoiler roles, and B4A even pulled a major coup. That’s right, the Dukies and their 14-0 all-time Maui Invitational record will join the fun in Paradise. Add up that field and four of those teams are currently in the AP Top 25, with six in KenPom.com’s Top 50. It’s a major power move for preseason tournament supremacy.
The 2012 Maui Invite will counter with Butler, Illinois, Marquette, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Texas, USC and Chaminade. While you’ve got some big names in there, they’ve clearly had some regular attendees poached by the 2012 B4A. Do we have a new champion?
In the end, it doesn’t matter, because you and I win as fans. With these fields battling on their respective gorgeous island locales, which tournament will you be watching next season?