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Zags part of strong 2018 Maui Invitational men’s basketball field

Gonzaga guard David Stockton (11) darts under Arkansas forward Bobby Portis (10) to shoot a layup while his teammate center Przemek Karnowski, back left, looks on in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Maui Invitational on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Eugene Tanner / AP)
Gonzaga guard David Stockton (11) darts under Arkansas forward Bobby Portis (10) to shoot a layup while his teammate center Przemek Karnowski, back left, looks on in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Maui Invitational on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Eugene Tanner / AP)

It wasn’t a secret that Gonzaga will play in the 2018 Maui Invitational, one of college basketball’s best holiday tournaments.

The Zags learned Wednesday who they’ll be up against as officials announced the tournament field. For the first time in the event’s 35-year history it will feature eight Division I teams: GU, Arizona, Auburn, Duke, Illinois, Iowa State, San Diego State and Xavier.

Host Chaminade will play on the mainland in the opening round for the first time and will continue to do so in even-numbered years. The Silverswords will play in the championship round in Maui in odd-numbered years.

Duke has won five Maui Invitationals, more than any other program. The Blue Devils won the 2015 national championship, defeating Gonzaga along the way in an Elite Eight matchup. Arizona, which will face Gonzaga on Dec. 3 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, also made the Elite Eight in 2015.

Gonzaga claimed the 2009 Maui championship with victories over Colorado, Wisconsin and Cincinnati. GU guards Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray were selected co-MVPs. Adam Morrison, who poured in 43 points in a semifinal win over Michigan State, was MVP of the 2005 tournament despite Gonzaga falling to Connecticut in the title game.

GU rebounded from an opening-round loss to Dayton to defeat Chaminade and Arkansas to place fifth in 2013.

The 2018 Maui Invitational will be played Nov. 19-21 at the Lahaina Civic Center, Games will be televised on ESPN networks.

Gonzaga will play in the 2017 Phil Knight Invitational over Thanksgiving week in Portland, a 16-team event honoring the Nike co-founder’s 80th birthday.

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