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Riding the Waves of Tradition: History of the Maui Invitational

In the realm of college basketball, few tournaments boast the combination of pristine beaches, aloha spirit, and top-tier competition quite like the Maui Invitational. Since its inception in 1984, this annual event has become a staple in the world of collegiate hoops, captivating fans with its scenic backdrop and showcasing the talents of some of the nation’s most prominent programs.


The Maui Invitational, held on the picturesque island of Maui, Hawaii, emerged as a brainchild of Dave Gavitt, the founder of the Big East Conference. Gavitt envisioned a tournament that would not only offer teams an early-season test against high-caliber opponents but also provide an unparalleled experience in a tropical paradise. With this vision in mind, the tournament was born, and the inaugural edition tipped off in 1984.

Early Years

The early years of the Maui Invitational set the stage for its future success. The tournament quickly gained prestige as top programs from across the nation flocked to Maui to compete. Notable participants in the early editions included basketball powerhouses like Kansas, Michigan, and North Carolina. The allure of the Hawaiian paradise coupled with fierce on-court battles solidified the tournament’s reputation as a must-watch event.

The Maui Effect

Over the years, the Maui Invitational became synonymous with unforgettable moments and upsets, earning its reputation as a breeding ground for March Madness success. Teams that found success in Maui often rode the momentum gained on the island all the way to the NCAA Tournament. The tournament’s unique atmosphere, blending high-stakes basketball with the laid-back Hawaiian lifestyle, created an environment where players could showcase their skills in a pressure-cooker setting.

Iconic Champions

The list of Maui Invitational champions reads like a who’s who of college basketball royalty. Programs like Duke (5), North Carolina (4), Kansas (3), and Syracuse (3) have etched their names into the tournament’s history with multiple victories. These champions not only left their mark on the sandy shores of Maui but also paved the way for future generations to strive for success on the national stage.

Past 5 Years of Champions

2022: Arizona

2021: Wisconsin

2020: Texas

2019: Kansas

2018: Gonzaga


As the Maui Invitational continues to be a beacon of excellence in the college basketball landscape, its legacy endures. The tournament’s ability to blend competitive basketball with the allure of paradise has made it a perennial favorite among players, coaches, and fans alike. With each passing year, the Maui Invitational adds another chapter to its storied history, ensuring its place as a premier event on the college basketball calendar.

2023 Maui Invitational Bracket

Screenshot 2023 11 20 at 12.28.37 PM

2023 Appearance Records

Tennessee: 4 Appearances (4-7) 0 Championships

Syracuse: 4 Appearances (10-0) 3 Championships

Purdue: 4 Appearances (7-3) 0 Championships

Gonzaga: 6 Appearances (13-4) 2 Championships

Kansas: 8 Appearances (18-6) 3 Championships

UCLA: 7 Appearances (11-10) 1 Championships

Marquette: 4 Appearances (8-3) 0 Championships

*Chaminade: 38 Appearances (8-95) 0 Championships

*Host Team for Invitational


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