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Louisville pulls out of 2012 Maui Invitational

It appears Cardinal fans who had been planning on a November, 2012 getaway to the island of Maui are out of luck.

Louisville has pulled out of the 2012 Maui Invitational Tournament and has already been replaced by Marquette. U of L was also scheduled to participate in the event in 2009, but instead worked out a deal to push their participation back three years.

According to sources, Louisville pulled out the event so it could play in the 2012 Atlantis in the Bahamas Tournament. The tournament will be making its debut this season, and made headlines last spring when it announced that it will be paying participating schools $2 million annually, making it the richest preseason tournament in college basketball. Defending national champion Connecticut will be playing in the tournament this fall.

While pulling out of the sport's most prestigious preseason tournament may seem like an odd move, Rick Pitino's motives become pretty apparent with the added news that the team will instead be heading to the Bahamas.

For starters, $2 million is a lot of keesh. The 2012 Maui field isn't exactly stacked, and my guess is the Atlantis tournament organizers will be able to attract a comparable group of programs over the next few months. Second, it's a better location. The Bahamas is an easier trip to make for interested fans, it's much closer to the Louisville time zone, it's an area the team will already have some familiarity with, and my guess is the facilities will be a step above the high school gym they still use in Maui. And then finally, the Bahamas has suddenly become a hot bed for basketball talent. Five blue-chip recruits in the class of 2012 - Wanaah Bail, Buddy Hield, Shaq Cleare, Michael Carey and Chicken Knowles - are all originally from the Bahamas. 

Maui will still probably be the king of preseason tournaments in 16 months, but that doesn't mean this is a bad move.