2018 Maui Invitational breakdown

2018 Maui Invitational breakdown

Want to weigh in on the Maui Invitational? How about Lovie Smith's future? Anything goes on "Monday Morning Quarterbacks" from 9-11 a.m. on WDWS 1400-AM.

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Tonight's coverage on WDWS and WHMS 97.5-FM begins at 9 ahead of the 10:30 tip against No. 3 Gonzaga. Voice of the Illini Brian Barnhart and N-G Media's Ed Bond arrived in Maui on Sunday and will provide updates leading up to tip.

On to basketball ...

No Chaminade might eliminate that once-in-a-lifetime upset opportunity, but three top-10 teams in the Maui Invitational makes up for it. College basketball writer SCOTT RICHEY breaks down the entire field:

No. 9 Auburn (3-0)

Path to Maui: Try to look past two of the Tigers' three wins coming against South Alabama and Division II Mississippi College. While Washington might have been overvalued heading into the season, beating the then No. 25 Huskies by 22 points is a legitimate win.

Obvious player to watch: Auburn might have bigger names on its roster, but Chuma Okeke is as productive — or maybe even more — through three games. The 6-foot-8 sophomore forward is averaging 14 points, 8.7 rebounds and putting up a 60/64/100 shooting slash line.

Under-the-radar player to watch: How does former five-star recruit Austin Wiley end up flying under the radar? Well, missing an entire season after being implicated in the FBI investigation into college basketball will do that. Wiley's per 40 numbers from 2016-17, though, provide an idea of what he could be.

Key stat: Auburn point guard Jared Harper ranks among the top 25 players in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio after putting up 22 assists to just three turnovers in the Tigers' first three games.

Xavier (2-1)

Path to Maui: The Musketeers were fine in wins against IUPUI and Evansville, although the Purple Aces did make 17 three-pointers. Then came the Gavitt Tipoff Games. Wisconsin's Ethan Happ roasted Xavier with 30 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in the Badgers' nine-point win.

Obvious player to watch: Naji Marshall does a little bit of everything for the Musketeers. The 6-7 sophomore forward leads the team in scoring (14.3 ppg), is tied with Quentin Goodin for the team lead in assists (4.0 apg) and ranks second in rebounding (8.3 rpg).

Under-the-radar player to watch: Don't leave Paul Scruggs open at the three-point line. The one-time Illinois recruiting target doesn't take as many shots from deep as teammate Ryan Welage, but the 6-3 sophomore guard is hitting at a 45.5 percent clip so far this season.

Key stat: Evansville's three-point outburst (17 of 33) skews the stats a bit, but Xavier is allowing its opponents to shoot 46.1 percent from three-point range through three games.

No. 1 Duke (3-0)

Path to Maui: Duke vaulted to the No. 1 spot in the country after thoroughly dismantling Kentucky in the Champions Classic. Then the Blue Devils pulled away in the second half against Army for a 22-point win and topped Eastern Michigan by 38 points. Sense a trend?

Obvious player to watch: Take your pick of the three dominant freshmen. But start with Zion Williamson. There's literally no one in college basketball like the 6-7, 285-pound walking highlight reel. Come for the dunks. Stay for every other play he makes each game.

Under-the-radar player to watch: The Blue Devils are defined by their freshmen and aren't a particularly deep team, but Jack White has been something of a revelation off the bench. The 6-7 Aussie went from averaging 0.8 points and 1.5 rebounds a year ago to 8.3 points and seven rebounds this season.

Key stat: Three, as in three future NBA lottery picks. The last team to have three top-10 picks in a single draft was Florida in 2007 (Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Joakim Noah). Duke could easily have the top three picks overall in Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish.

San Diego State (2-0)

Path to Maui: Let's just say the Aztecs haven't been overly challenged in their first two games of the season. Sure, Texas Southern beat Baylor in its opener, but the Tigers are still a bottom 100 team in the country, which is better than Arkansas-Pine Bluff's place in the college basketball world.

Obvious player to watch: Jalen McDaniels has multiple levels of importance for San Diego State. The 6-9 sophomore forward is averaging 14.5 points, nine rebounds and three steals. He also has a younger brother, Jaden, who's a five-star 2019 prospect. Just saying.

Under-the-radar player to watch: Devin Watson actually has a lower percentage of possessions used and percentage of shots taken than Jalen McDaniels and Matt Mitchell. That hasn't stopped the 6-1 senior guard from leading the Aztecs in scoring at 17 points per game.

Key stat: Don't foul San Diego State guard Jordan Schakel. The 6-6 sophomore guard has made 11 straight free throws to start the season after shooting just 68.4 percent from the line a year ago.

Arizona (3-0)

Path to Maui: An unbeaten start to the season can be a little misleading. Three wins with an average margin of victory of 28 points really jumps off the page. That those three wins came against Houston Baptist and UTEP doesn't.

Obvious player to watch: This Arizona team doesn't have the star power of its last several iterations. No future No. 1 pick on the roster. But freshman guard Brandon Williams, who committed, de-committed and then committed again, is putting up 14.3 points and 4.7 assists per game.

Under-the-radar player to watch: Chase Jeter is kind of a forgotten man. The former five-star recruit barely played in two years at Duke and had to sit out last season in Tuscon after transferring. Now he's averaging 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds.

Key stat: All three of Arizona's first three opponents are among the bottom 60 in the country, with UTEP boasting the highest KenPom rating at No. 293 (out of 353 Division I teams).

Iowa State (3-0)

Path to Maui: The Cyclones already have a signature win on the season after taking down Missouri by 17 points to go with "as expected" victories against the likes of Alabama State and Texas Southern.

Obvious player to watch: There was no way this wouldn't be Talen Horton-Tucker. The Simeon grad, one-time Illinois recruiting target and Iowa State freshman guard hit five threes and scored 26 points against Texas Southern.

Under-the-radar player to watch: No Lindell Wigginton for at least the rest of the month means Nick Weiler-Babb becomes even more important for the Cyclones at point guard. After missing nine games at the end of last season with a knee injury, the 6-5 senior is averaging 11.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and five assists.

Key stat: Wigginton's strained left foot creates even more depth issues for Iowa State. The Cyclones have just eight scholarship players available. Four of them are true freshmen.

No. 3 Gonzaga (3-0)

Path to Maui: Scoring 120 points against Idaho State and 104 against Texas Southern is one thing. Putting up 94 points and beating Texas A&M by 23 — even if the Aggies are down this year — is another. The Bulldogs are rolling.

Obvious player to watch: All the experts were saying Rui Hachimura would have a breakout junior season after what he did last season playing just 20.7 minutes per game. Somehow is per 40 minute numbers are even more ridiculous, as he's putting up 22.7 points in just 24.7 minutes per game.

Under-the-radar player to watch: Hachimura seems to have the same kind of deal going that Zach Collins had two years ago and he and Killian Tillie had last season. As in let the bouncy player playing next to you handle the rebounding. This year, it's Brandon Clarke, who's averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Key stat: Gonzaga is scoring 106 points per game so far this season. That puts the Bulldogs fifth nationally. Leading the nation is The Citadel at 121.7 points per game thanks to two ridiculous outings against non-Division I opponents.

Illinois (1-1)

Path to Maui: One of two teams in the field with a loss, the Illini split their opening games stateside with a win against Evansville and that loss in the Gavitt Tipoff Games to Georgetown, who turned around three days later and lost to Loyola Marymount.

Obvious player to watch: Expectations were sky high for Illini freshman Ayo Dosunmu heading into the season. The 6-5 guard has certainly delivered. He's averaging a team-high 21.5 points to go with 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game.

Under-the-radar player to watch: The potential just bubbling under the surface for freshman Tevian Jones makes what he could be at Illinois intriguing. While his production dropped from Evansville to Georgetown, the 6-7 guard has the ability to impact the game at both ends.

Key stat: Da'Monte Williams is still doing all the little things for the Illini. The sophomore guard is taking charges, getting in passing lanes, rebounding and even doing more scoring. He's also not turning the ball over — an issue at times last year. Williams has zero turnovers through two games.

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