There are many who believe that this year's 2013 EA Sports Maui Invitational field is one of the best – or at least the most balanced – that the event has put forth in its history.
All eight teams come into the event unbeaten and the seven Division I teams all have hopes of getting to the NCAA Tournament in March.
"I think this a great field and there are going to be five or six teams here that are going to make the NCAA Tournament," California head coach Mike Montgomery said. "I think there is a great chance of that happening."
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, whose team won this tournament in 2009 in its last trip to Maui, takes that statement another step.
"I think we are looking at six or seven teams here getting into the tournament," Few said. "I can see that easily happening."
There are three ranked teams in this season's tournament with the Associated Press poll having Syracuse at No. 7, Gonzaga rated 13th and Baylor coming in at 20th.
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ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes pointed out that out of 56 Division I teams that are still unbeaten, seven of them are in this tournament.
He also noted that while he was an Arkansas walk on guard back in the early 1980s that his grade point average was higher than his points per game average.
"The bad thing was that I was not a 4.0 student either," Dykes said. "Far from it."
Dykes said ESPN asked him about seven years ago if he would rather do the Maui Invitational instead of the Great Alaskan Shootout.
"That was an easy decision," Dykes added. "Very easy."
It does appear that Dykes might have made one mistake in his tournament travel. ESPN paid for him to sit in first class on the plane flight out, but his wife and his daughter had to sit in coach.
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim - who was on the same flight and flying in coach with his team - pointed out something to the younger Dykes.
"I did that once," Boeheim said. "Took me about three years to fully pay for it if you know what I am saying."
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The Sunday press conference coincided with a free throw shooting event for charity in which the eight coaches partnered up with a local student.
Dayton head coach Archie Miller, a former North Carolina State point guard, and Maui Waena student Ashley Peralta made all four of their free throws to win the event.
Boeheim and his student finished second with 3 makes while Arkansas coach Mike Anderson missed both of his free throws, but his student made both to finish in a tie for third.
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Few found himself a little distracted as the other coaches were talking about their teams.
When it came his time – the eight and final coach to speak - Few acknowledged why.
"It's so nice here that kids are playing football on the beach, but I looked up and my 13-year-old son cheap shoted my 11-year-old," Few said. "I thought I was going to have to go out there and put a stop to it, but they settled down."
Few – who visits Maui yearly whether his team does or not – is bringing his Gonzaga program to this tournament for the fourth time in his 15 years at the helm.
The Zags won the event in their last trip in 2009.
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Illinois downed Butler – and former Razorback guard Rotnei Clarke – 78-61 in last year's championship game of the 2012 Maui Invitational.
Duke won in 2011, Uconn in 2010 and North Carolina in 2008.
Syracuse is the only 2013 team other than Gonzaga with a tournament title as it won back in 1998 by downing Indiana 76-63 with Boeheim coaching the Orange.
"This is a tournament that also has a great field and really lets you know what you need to work on," Boeheim said. "It's been great for us over the years in that regard."
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Arkansas, looking to go to 4-0 for the first time since the 2005-2006 season, has played in the Maui Invitational three times with the last time being in 2005.
The Razorbacks lost to Michigan State back in the 1991 championship game.
This is the second time that Arkansas and Cal have met on the basketball court with the first time also being in Hawaii.
That was back on Dec. 30, 1986 when when the Razorbacks downed California 74-58 in the Rainbow Classic.
The eight head coaches pose for their official photo (top ) and later with students who joined them for the free throw contest. Former Arkansas playera and current ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes (bottom right) was the emcee for Sunday's press conference.
Arkansas senior guard Kikko Haydar is interview by CBS sportscaster Allie LaForce.
Arkansas sophomore Michael Qualls gets his time in front of the cameras.
Coty Clarke poses with the EA Sports Video Game Challenge trophy after leading the Razorbacks to the win on Saturday night.
Maui Invitational Sunday Notes
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