A few openings in Arizona basketball's nonconference schedule cleared up Wednesday when ESPN released the bracket for the 2014 Maui Invitational tournament. The Arizona Wildcats will open the championship round of the event against the Missouri Tigers on Nov. 24. Tip for that game will be at 3 p.m. MST.
Arizona will then face either Kansas State or Purdue on Nov. 25, depending on which teams win and lose the opening games. Two wins and the Wildcats are into the championship game.
The Wildcats also found out their opening game for the event will be at McKale Center on Nov. 16 against Cal State University, Northridge. That game is not tied to the tournament in Maui but acts as a prelude to the championship event that also includes Pittsburgh, Chaminade, San Diego State and BYU on the other side of the bracket.
Arizona is likely going to open the season ranked as a top-3 team and is clearly the favorite of the main event. What else will we watch for?
Mizzou has a lot of question-marks going into the 2014-15 season. The Tigers lost three guards -- Jordan Clarkson, Jabari Brown and Earnest Ross -- averaging 14 or more points per game. The Tigers also saw embattled coach Frank Haith dip out of town to coach at Tulsa. Haith was suspended to begin last season because of his involvement with Nevin Shapiro when he was Miami head coach. Now it's on former Central Missouri coach Kim Anderson to rebuild the Tigers.
The guy you don't know
This could be an important detail if Arizona and KSU win their first games, as expected. Take ESPN's Myron Medcalf's word for it here: Kansas State's Marcus Foster should be a star after averaging 15.5 points per game as a freshman last season. The 6'2 guard is a bit of a gunner, having attempted 6.1 threes per game, which accounted for nearly half of his 12.7 shots taken per game. Still, he hit 39.5 percent from deep while also being a capable playmaker.
The other Arizona storylines
- Sean Miller could end up facing his alma mater in the championship game -- or if the Wildcats lose and fall into the losers bracket. Pittsburgh fans might get a chance to grumble about Jamie Dixon if that happens.
- Arizona might also find itself facing San Diego State in what's quickly become one of the most entertaining West Coast rivalries under Miller and Aztecs coach Steve Fisher. SDSU lost deadly scorer Xavier Thames and rebounding machine Josh Davis from last season but is reloading with a recruiting class and none other than former Arizona forward Angelo Chol, writes Medcalf:
Fisher built SDSU on the backs of junior college kids and transfers. But his recruiting class of Malik Pope, Trey Kell and Zylan Cheatham is no joke and proof that the future is bright in San Diego. Plus, Chol has been a monster in practice. The Aztecs are excited about his potential.
- Here's a link to the printable bracket.