After tragedy, the Maui Invitational returns to its roots.
The college basketball tournament, which includes UCLA, will be played Nov. 20-22 at Hawaii’s Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu after Maui was hit by devastating wildfires this summer.
UCLA is part of possibly the strongest field in the tournament’s history. Five of the top 10 teams in the ESPN preseason poll — No. 1 Kansas, No. 3 Purdue, No. 7 Gonzaga, No. 8 Tennessee and No. 10 Marquette — will also participate, along with Syracuse and Chaminade. UCLA will face Marquette in the first round on Nov. 20, with either Kansas or Chaminade the next day.
The tournament began two years after Chaminade, then an NAIA school, defeated top-ranked Virginia in Honolulu in 1982, in what is still considered the greatest upset in college basketball history. Chaminade became the permanent host school for an event usually held at the Lahaina Civic Center, where students are flown from Honolulu to Maui to support the Division II Silverswords.
While the Lahaina Civic Center was spared from the recent wildfires, the venue continues to serve as a hub for recovery efforts. Hosting the tournament in Hawaii, particularly in a larger 10,300-seat arena, provides event organizers with an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for the victims of the Maui wildfires.
“We are disappointed that we were unable to make the Lahaina Civic Center available for the Maui Invitational this year, but we are grateful that the tournament is staying in Hawaii,” Maui Mayor Richard Bissen said in a statement. “We appreciate everything the Maui Invitational does to help Maui and its residents.”
The Maui Invitational kicked off last week Tires for ‘Ohana Online auction featuring items donated by previous tournament participants. The proceeds will benefit forest firefighting and reconstruction efforts. To learn more, visit mauiinvitational.com/hoopsforohana.
This isn’t the first time the Maui Invitational has been held elsewhere; Due to COVID-19 restrictions in Hawaii, it was relocated to Asheville, North Carolina during the 2020–21 season.