The 2018 Maui Invitational bracket was released on Tuesday, and the Gonzaga Bulldogs will play Illinois in the first round. The dream and drool-worthy potential matchup against the Duke Blue Devils, if it will happen, will come in the championship game.
The Zags will open up against Illinois, with a potential second-round game against either Arizona or Iowa State. On the other side of the bracket, Duke will open against San Diego State and Auburn will open up against Xavier.
Gonzaga last won the Maui Invitational in 2009, defeating Cincinnati in overtime. It will be the seventh all-time matchup against Illinois, who own a 5-1 record over Gonzaga. The last time the two teams met on Dec. 8, 2012, Illinois defeated Gonzaga 85-74.
If you take a look at the bracket, you might notice that the host school, Chaminade, is missing from the free for all. This is the first year where the tournament shifted to its every other year schedule for Chaminade’s involvement.
With Gonzaga entering the season as a presumed top-5 squad, and Duke entering the season as a potential top-1 squad, the heat is on both squads to make it to the championship game. Gonzaga has set itself up nicely for a hard test this season, and the Maui Invitational will be a great opening salvo for the rest of the season.