The Dayton men’s basketball team landed in Hawaii in the wee hours of Friday morning, maybe a little jet-lagged after flights from Atlanta to Los Angeles to Maui but feeling good enough to pose for photos in the airport with leis around their necks.
“Made it safely to Hawaii!!,” senior Devin Oliver tweeted. “Excited.”
The Flyers had to be feeling good about their 82-72 victory at Georgia Tech on Wednesday and their 4-0 start. Of course, in Maui, that’s par for the course. The eight teams playing in the 30th annual EA Sports Maui Invitational brought a combined 30-0 record to the Aloha State.
The field includes No. 7 Syracuse, No. 12 Gonzaga, Dayton’s opponent at midnight on Monday at the Lahaina Civic Center, and No. 21 Baylor. This is the first time in the history of the event every team is undefeated.
Here’s a quick glance at the eight teams:
• Dayton (4-0): The Flyers won the Wayne Duke Championship trophy in 2003 with victories over Central Michigan, San Diego State and Hawaii. In 2000, they placed third. They beat No. 12 Connecticut, lost to Arizona and beat No. 6 Maryland in the event.
• Gonzaga (4-0): The 2009 Maui champs average 91.3 points per game and shoot 48 percent from 3-point range (45-of-93). Junior guard Kevin Pangos averages 18.8 points per game.
• Baylor (4-0): The Bears and Flyers played in the Charleston Classic last November, but didn’t meet. They could play in the second round in Maui, if they both win or both lose. Baylor plays host Chaminade on Monday. Baylor (23-14 a year ago) was picked to finish third in the Big 12.
• Chaminade (2-0): The Silverswords, an NCAA Division II team, are 7-78 all-time in their tournament. They’re the only non-Division I school that plays in it. They famously upset Virginia in the Maui Invitational in 1982 and beat Texas in the opening round in 2012.
• Arkansas (3-0): The Razorbacks were picked to finish eighth out of 14 teams in the SEC. They play California in the first round.
• California (4-0): The Golden Bears returned four starters from a team that finished 21-12 and won one game in the NCAA tournament.
• Minnesota (5-0): Coached by Rick Pitino’s son Richard, the Golden Gophers play Syracuse in the first round. Among their five wins is a 74-59 victory over Richmond. This is Pitino’s first year with the program. He spent one season as head coach at Florida International before moving to Minnesota.
• Syracuse (4-0): The Orangemen, Final Four participants a year ago, won the Maui Invitational in 1990 and 1998.
They have one victory over an Atlantic 10 team this season, 89-74 over Fordham, and also beat a team the Flyers already played and beat, St. Francis College (N.Y). Syracuse won 56-50, and Dayton beat the Terriers 78-58.
Dayton vs. Gonzaga, midnight Monday, ESPN2, 1290, 95.7