The Maui Invitational brackets released

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Earlier this afternoon, the matchups for the 2012 Maui Invitational were announced.

And I have to admit, I am not a fan of the outcome.

First things first: the bracket. North Carolina takes on Mississippi State with the winner advancing to play the winner of Butler and Marquette. In the other games, Illinois will play USC while Texas takes on Chaminade.

I have no problems with North Carolina and Texas finding themselves on opposite sides of the bracket. They are the two largest — if not the two most well-known — programs in the event. They also are probably the two teams with the most NBA potential on their rosters. I also have no issue with Texas drawing the Division II host Silverswords, either.

My issue is with the first round game between Butler and Marquette.

I don’t think it is crazy to say that, come March, the Bulldogs and the Golden Eagles will be the two best teams that took part in this event. Butler shouldn’t be a secret at this point. They return everyone except Ronald Nored from last season’s youthful, but talented, roster while adding sharpshooters Rotnei Clark (the Arkansas transfer) and Kellen Dunham to a team whose biggest flaw was their struggles from the perimeter. They have high-major size, shooting and athleticism. If Chrishawn Hopkins and/or Jackson Aldridge can solidify the point guard spot, Brad Stevens’ team has a chance to win the Atlantic 10.

Marquette probably won’t win the Big East this season — the favorite is undoubtedly Louisville — but they certainly are a darkhorse Final Four contender. Their back court will be made up of Trent Lockett, Junior Cadougan and Vander Blue even if Todd Mayo never makes it back from suspension. Their front court of Davante Gardner, Chris Otule, Steve Taylor, Jamil Wilson and Juan Anderson certainly isn’t slacking, either.

This game has the potential to be one of the best games of the regular season.

And these two teams play in the first game of the first round.


At 10:30 am on a Monday time.

What a waste.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.