Aztecs going back to the islands
The field for the 2022 Maui invitational was announced early Thursday morning. Among the list of teams are the San Diego State Aztecs. Hopefully, it is not some kind of sick April Fools joke.
— Maui Invitational (@MauiInv) April 1, 2021
The Aztecs will be joined by Arkansas, Arizona, Cincinnati, Creighton, Louisville, Ohio State, and Texas Tech. Early on it looks to be an absolutely stacked field. Each of these programs competes for a march madness berth every season. The bracket has not been announced yet, so there is no indication of who the Aztecs will face in any of the rounds. Regardless, there doesn’t appear to be a bad team in the field.
It will be the third time in 12 years that the Aztecs will make the trip to Maui. In 2014 they went 2-1, beating rival BYU in the first round in a game that went to double overtime, beating Pittsburgh in the second round, and losing to Arizona in the championship game. In 2018 they had a bad showing, going 1-2, losing to Duke in the first round, narrowly beating Xavier in the second round, only to get demolished by Iowa State in the third round.
There are some recent connections between the field and the Aztecs. The previously mentioned matchup with Arizona among them. Arizona had beaten SDSU in the Sweet 16 the previous season. Eric Musselman, head coach at Arkansas, lived in San Diego for a while as a youth and had many matchups with the Aztecs during his time as the head coach at Nevada. Musselman holds a 3-7 record against the Aztecs as a head coach. The Aztecs also beat Creighton 83-52 in the Las Vegas Invitational in 2019.
Getting into the field is a major boon for SDSU, as it had previously been announced they would not be returning in 2022. Playing high level competition in Maui will be beneficial for the team’s resume, and will help the Mountain West conference as a whole.
It is hard to project what any of the team’s rosters may look like in 2022, but it’s a relatively safe bet that Lamont Butler and Keith Dinwiddie (both Juniors by then) will be the starting backcourt for the Aztecs at that time. The lineup may be Lamont Butler, Keith Dinwiddie, Che Evans, Keshad Johnson, and Demarshay Johnson, and at that point they would all be experienced players ready to show the world they can play at a high level. It should be a fun one for Aztecs fans.