Beilein: Maui 'an incredible test'; UM opens vs. LSU

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Less than 24 hours after the majority of Michigan’s nonconference schedule was unveiled, the final piece was revealed on Tuesday.

The bracket for the 2017 Maui Invitational was released and the Wolverines will open against LSU on Nov. 20 in the first round of the eight-team tournament. Tip-off is set for 11:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. local time)  and the game will be televised on ESPNU.

LSU is coming off a 10-21 season and lost 17 of its final 18 games, including 15 straight from Jan. 7-Feb. 25. The dismal campaign led to the firing of Johnny Jones and the hiring of former VCU coach Will Wade.

Michigan will face either host Chaminade and Notre Dame in the second round.

On the other side of the bracket, Marquette will square off against VCU and Wichita State takes on California in the opening round.

“The field if you look at the whole thing, it's an incredible test for everybody,” Michigan coach John Beilein said on a teleconference call with reporters. “You go into it, you know so little about your team and so does everyone else. You find out a lot and there's some defining moments sometimes both good and bad that can change the course in your season. I got a lot of respect for the program that Will Wade is going to build at Louisiana.

“Every team in this tournament, including Chaminade — being an old Division II guy I know how good those teams are. Every team in this tournament is going to be a great challenge but a great opportunity for growth, as well.”

With several new faces on the roster and just three Wolverines who played significant minutes returning from last season’s Sweet 16 team — center Moritz Wagner, forward Duncan Robinson and guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman — the Maui Invitational will serve as an early test and chance for the team to strengthen its bond on and off the court.

The three-day event will also serve as a primer for Michigan’s brutal nonconference stretch against North Carolina, UCLA and Texas.

“This is a great time for Michigan to make its mark nationally,” Beilein said. “This is a great opportunity to prove again that your program can continue winning despite any adversity or any transition that you have.”

The championship game is slated for 10:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m local time) on Nov. 22. All games will be played at the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui, Hawaii and broadcast on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Michigan will be making its sixth appearance in the Maui Invitational and vying for its third tournament title (1985, 1988).

Slam dunks

Beilein said the search to replace assistants Jeff Meyer and Billy Donlon is ongoing.

“I wish I could give you an update because that would mean I'd have it done. I'm still in a process of doing it,” Beilein said. “I feel really good about where we are except for the timeline. It's taken longer than I anticipated but it's OK. The bottom line is get the right guys to lead us into the future.”

… While the Wolverines will be looking to take care of business on the trip, Beilein said he also wants to make sure his players enjoy the experience.

“You must dive off a cliff while you're in Hawaii. That may be mandatory as much as going to practice,” he said.

Michigan’s 2017-18 nonconference schedule

Nov. 3 vs. Grand Valley State (exhibition)

Nov. 11 vs. North Florida

Nov. 13 vs. Central Michigan

Nov. 16 vs. Southern Mississippi

Nov. 20 vs. LSU (Maui Invitational)

Nov. 21 vs. Chaminade or Notre Dame (Maui Invitational)

Nov. 22 TBD (Maui Invitational)

Nov. 26 vs. UC Riverside

Nov. 29 at North Carolina

Dec. 9 vs. UCLA

Dec. 12 at Texas

Dec. 16 vs. Detroit Mercy at Little Caesars Arena

Dec. 21 vs. Alabama A&M

Dec. 30 vs. Jacksonville