Maui Invitational Sets Up Possible Blockbuster of Kentucky-WashingtonPosted by rtmsf on August 5th, 2010
The Maui Invitational brackets were released this afternoon (see below), and it will be up to the rebuilding programs of Jeff Capel at Oklahoma and Tony Bennett at Virginia to put the brakes on what could be the most highly anticipated early-season game from two fanbases who do not like each other since the Na’vi faced off against RDA Corp. on Pandora. A prime-time semifinal matchup between Kentucky and Washington seeks to titillate the senses, uniting people in two camps of outrage — Husky fans who view John Calipari as a soulless devil who poaches already-committed recruits (namely, Enes Kanter and Terrence Jones); and Wildcat fans who chafe at the allegation and love to throw victories and program superiority back in people’s face (namely, tweeter extraordinaire Isaiah Thomas).
As we discussed last week, Thomas has already anointed Kentucky fans as “kinda stupid,” and his tweet today that both teams need to win so that “people can watch what they wanna see” echoes some of his previous comments made when Jones reneged on his UW commitment in May. Of particular interest is his specific call-out of new UK point guard Brandon Knight, where he said, “been there KILLD that lol.” On November 23, Knight will have had at least three or four games under his belt (while Thomas will have had over 70), so it will be very intriguing to see how that particular matchup goes.
For a couple of schools who have so little in common culturally, geographically and athletically, this is a treat for the rest of us. Quickly reviewing the comments sections on two prominent UW and UK blogs reveals that, even though both teams have first round games against other schools (including an interesting Washington game versus former Wazzu coach Tony Bennett, now at Virginia) and powerhouses Michigan State and UConn residing in the top half of the bracket, people on both sides want to talk about the potential second-round showdown of Cats and Dogs. Could anyone have imagined such a thing six months ago?
As for the rest of the field, an MSU-UConn rematch from the 2009 Final Four would be special, but we might put our early-season money on Wichita State springing the upset in the first round to face the Izzos in the second. Of course we’re going to hope for the UK-UW game in the other semifinal, with the fired-up Huskies using their experience advantage to sneak past a bunch of young Cats oozing with potential. That would set up a Michigan State-Washington final, which would be a fun, athletic game played well above the rim on both ends. Ultimately we’d expect MSU to out-physical the slighter Huskies, but with so many tasty morsels of possibility in this year’s version of the Invitational, we really could not care less who else plays whom at this point. How soon until Thanksgiving week?