Preview & Prediction: By Fairway Jay
The Maui Invitational tips off with #1 North Carolina (3-0) taking on Chaminade, a Division ll team from the Pac West. Basketball historians will recall Chaminade’s 1982 upset of then #1 Virginia with Ralph Sampson. The Silverswords upset was one of the biggest in college basketball history.
North Carolina is a deep and talented team, but still banged up. All-American Tyler Hansbrough missed the Tar Heels opening two games but returned Friday night at UCSB and tallied 13 points with 7 rebounds in 25 minutes. Wayne Ellington and point guard Ty Lawson are each averaging over 14 ppg. Deon Thomson has doubled his scoring and rebounding output from a season ago, averaging over 16 ppg and 8 rpg. But 7-foot freshman center Tyler Zeller is out for the year with a broken wrist after playing pretty well in the opening two games. Marcus Ginyard, one of the ACC’s best perimeter defenders is still out with a foot injury.
Even with a less than healthy lineup for North Carolina, they’ll still have little trouble with an overmatched but potentially improved Chaminade team. The Silverswords have 8 transfers with Mohamed Tangara expected to provide a post presence after transferring from Arizona State. Joel Smith should add some solid play at guard after starting 11 games for the Washington Huskies last season. Patrick Collier is the lone returning player and scored just 5 ppg last year.
ESPN2 will carry the other opening games in Maui, but North Carolina will roll in their first round matchup on ESPNU.
Winner: North Carolina Margin: 20+
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About Fairway Jay
Previews & Predictions
Jay Ginsbach, also known as "Fairway Jay’"joins the CHN team and staff this season from Sportsmemo.com. He’ll provide his insight and expertise covering the college basketball scene with periodic thoughts from a Las Vegas perspective.