"The 2011 field has the potential to be the best field in tournament history," tournament chairman Dave Odom said. "The combination of rich basketball tradition and recent success should make for incredible competition."
Sixth-year Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl has some positive memories of his own from the Maui Invitational. During his time as an assistant coach at Iowa, Pearl helped lead the Hawkeyes to the 1987 tournament championship. Iowa that year defeated Stanford and eventual national champion Kansas before beating Villanova 97-74 in the championship game.
"The Maui Invitational is the premier preseason college basketball tournament," Pearl said. "This field features a number of former national champions, and I feel very fortunate that we were chosen. I'm also thrilled that we'll have an opportunity to bring our fans to such a beautiful place."
The tournament also announced Thursday that, starting in 2011, the field will expand from eight to 12 teams with the addition of four Division I institutions. The total number of tournament games also will expand from 12 games currently played on the island of Maui to a total of 23 games, which include 11 games played on the U.S. mainland.
Starting in 2011, the tournament will be played in three parts:
1. Opening Games:
a. Seven games between seven Maui-bound teams and four mainland teams.
b. These games will be played at the Maui-bound teams' home arenas from Friday, Nov. 11, through Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011
2. Regional Games:
a. Four games played between four mainland teams
b. These games will be played at a mainland team's home arena from Saturday, Nov. 19, to Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011
3. Championship Round:
a. The current eight-team, three-day bracket event
b. These games will be played on Maui from Monday, Nov. 21, to Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011.
The Maui Invitational has not expanded its field since 1986, when the tournament grew from four to eight teams.
"We are excited for the growth and expansion of the EA Sports Maui Invitational," Odom said. "More teams from more conferences will now have a chance to show their best among the nation's top teams in the premier early-season tournament."
For complete tournament information, visit the official tournament website at www.mauiinvitational.com, or to inquire about travel packages contact Oahu Travel, the official travel agent of the EA Sports Maui Invitational, at 1-800-826-3822.