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Maui Madness?

Kentucky fans eager for a return to the big time may look forward to downing the Blue Devils or Demon Deacons come March. But first, they'll get to watch the Cats tackle a set of Blue Demons in Hawaii.

The initial draws were announced today for the 2006 Maui Invitational, and the Wildcats will face Big East newbie Depaul in the first round at 9 p.m.  ET on Monday, Nov. 20.

When/if the Wildcats win, they would face the winner of UCLA-Chaminade next. On the other side of the brackets, Oklahoma -- and new coach Jeff Capel -- will take on a young, talented Memphis team, while Georgia Tech's young stars will duke it out with the Big Ten's Purdue.

Kentucky will have two regular season games in addition to its two preseason tilts before heading to Maui, and count me among those who think there's no reason UK cannot win Maui. The field is distinctly weaker than last year's star-studded affair, and Kentucky will likely head into the 06-07 campaign with a major chip on its shoulder.

Depaul isn't an easy foe, by any stretch, however, led by athletic senior Sammy Mejia (15.1 ppg) and a cadre of returning regulars.