Michigan basketball wraps up Maui Invitational with third-place matchup against UCLA
LAHAINA, Hawaii — The Michigan basketball team can't win the 2011 Maui Invitational, but it can leave the island in good standing.
A win over UCLA in the tournament's third-place game Wednesday (7:30 p.m., ESPN2) would give the 15th-ranked Wolverines a winning record in Maui, and plenty to feel good about on their way back to Ann Arbor.
A loss, though, could sour the trip — as the Bruins (1-3) aren't exactly playing their best basketball.
UCLA beat host Chaminade on Monday, but fell by 16 points to Kansas in the second round Tuesday.
Entering Wednesday's finale, Ben Howland's club appears desperate for a win.
Howland said the matchup Wednesday with the Wolverines would be important, but also difficult to prepare for in such a short amount of time.
As is often the case, one of Howland's main concerns is playing against Michigan coach John Beilein's 1-3-1 zone.
"They're a very hard team to prep on a few hours, because they have so many things within their offense," he said. "And they're going to be playing that 1-3-1 zone that they're famous for.
"So we're going to have to handle that zone and be really skilled."
The Bruins have faced nothing but turmoil early on this season, as UCLA dropped home games against Loyola-Marymount and Middle Tennessee to open the year, and has had to deal with off-court issues surrounding star Reeves Nelson.
Nelson, a junior forward who averaged 13.9 points and 9.1 rebounds last season, was suspended for the team's opener against Loyola-Marymount for being late to a meeting before being re-instated against Middle Tennessee.
From there, Nelson made another gaffe, as he missed the team's flight to Maui after failing to show up on time for the bus ride to the airport.
Nelson eventually made his way to the island, but was suspended for the first half against Chaminade.