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Arizona men’s basketball to open Maui Invitational against Cincinnati

arizona-wildcats-mens-basketball-cincinnati-bearcats-maui-invitational-hawaii-matchup-preview Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Could the Maui Invitational serve as a start of a burgeoning rivalry between future fellow Big 12 members?

CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander is reporting that Arizona will open against Cincinnati in the Maui Invitational over Thanksgiving week. This will be the first time the tournament is held at the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui since 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions in Hawaii.

The official bracket was released Monday morning, with the Arizona-Cincinnati game set to wrap up the opening day at 9:30 p.m. PT on Nov. 21.

Cincinnati is coming off an 18-15 season under first-year coach Wes Miller, but the Bearcats return four starters and have added three transfers including former Memphis guard Landers Nolley II and ex-Old Dominion power forward Kalu Ezikpe.

The Bearcats are entering their final season in the American Athletic Conference before moving to the Big 12 in 2023-24 along with BYU, Houston and UCF. Arizona has been linked to the Big 12 ever since UCLA and USC announced their departure for the Big Ten in 2024.

Arizona and Cincinnati have played three times, with the Wildcats winning every matchup. Their last meeting was in February 1996 when Miles Simon banked in a three-quarters court shot at the buzzer for a 79-76 victory, the 500th for legendary coach Lute Olson.

Arizona last played in the Maui Invitational in 2018, beating Iowa State in its first game before losing to Gonzaga and Auburn. The Wildcats won the tourney in 2000 and 2014 and reached the final in 1993 and 1997.