July 17, 2013
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The University of Minnesota men's basketball team will open the Championship Round of the 2013 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational against Syracuse University, tournament directors announced today. The matchup is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. CT on Monday, Nov. 25, from the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui.
The Gophers will play host to Coastal Carolina on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at Williams Arena in their true opener of the invitational. Louisiana, Oakland and St. Francis Brooklyn are the other Mainland teams taking part in the event. After the opening games, the Mainland teams will travel to Conway, S.C. to compete in the Regional Games at Coastal Carolina from November 23-24.
The Arkansas Razorbacks and California Bears will play in the Championship Round opener at 2:00 p.m., followed by Minnesota vs. Syracuse, Chaminade vs. Baylor at 8:30 p.m. and Dayton vs. Gonzaga at 11:00 p.m. All times Central.
The entire EA SPORTS Maui Invitational will be televised live on the ESPN family of networks. The Minnesota/Syracuse matchup is scheduled to appear on ESPN2. Games will also be broadcast live on the WatchESPN mobile app and WatchESPN.com.
Minnesota and Syracuse will be meeting for just the second time in each school’s history, but the first time since the Gophers defeated the Orange, 82-75, in the 1990 Sweet 16. Minnesota went 2-1 in its only other appearance in Maui (1991), with an opening-round loss to Arkansas and wins over Providence and Arizona State.
The Gophers have a combined record of 74-42 in in-season tournaments, dating back to the Chicago District Olympic Tournament during the 1935-36 season. Minnesota is 13-5 in the last six seasons during in-season tournament play, including wins over Memphis and Stanford last season at the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Gophers lost to Duke in the Atlantis opener.
Minnesota returns its top two scorers from a team that finished the 2012-13 season 21-13 overall, including a win over UCLA in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The victory over the Bruins was the first NCAA win for the program since defeating Syracuse in 1990 (vacated games not included).
The 2013-14 Gophers will be under the tutelage of first-year head coach Richard Pitino. Pitino comes to Gold Country after spending one season at the helm of the Florida International University (FIU) basketball program. Prior to his arrival in South Florida, FIU had not had a winning season since 1999-2000 and in the three seasons before his hiring posted a combined record of 26-65.
In just one season, Pitino led the program to 18 wins, the fourth-most in program history, and its first appearance in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship game. FIU finished with 11 conference wins on the season, the most by a Panther team since joining the Sun Belt Conference.