Miami basketball projected as 10 seed in 2021 bracketology

In the first release of the projections for the 2021 NCAA Tournament Joe Lunardi of ESPN has the Miami basketball team as a 10 seed in the South in Wichita, Kansas against seven seed Indiana.

After consecutive losing seasons, the Miami basketball team will hope to get back to the NCAA Tournament in 2020-21. Before the current lull, the Hurricanes went to three straight NCAA Tournaments from 2016-18 for the first time in program history. The future looks bright in Coral Gables.

The past two seasons the Miami basketball program was hindered by a roster shortage following the Hurricanes incorrectly being implicated in the Adidas scandal. The 2019-20 season ended for Miami with a loss to Clemson in the second round of the ACC Tournament a day before its cancelation.

Miami loses forward Keith Stone and guard Dejan Vasiljevic but returns everyone else on the roster and is adding additional talent. Rising senior Center Nysier Brooks will give Miami a shot-blocking and rebounding presence in the middle of the post after sitting out last season after transferring from Cincinnati.

Miami signed 6’6 225 forward Matt Cross and have a commitment from and are awaiting the national letter of intent to be signed from 6’6 forward Earl Timberlake who is the 25th ranked player in the Class of 2020. The backcourt will be the focus of the 2020-21 Miami basketball team.

Rising Senior guard Chris Lykes and Kameron McGusty and rising sophomore guards Isaiah Wong and Harlond Beverly all return for the Hurricanes. Miami also brings back rising seniors, forward Sam Waardenburg and center Rodney Miller as well as rising sophomore forward Anthony Walker from their 2019-20 team.

Rising junior forward Deng Gak will be returning from a season-ending knee injury for the second straight season. If Gak is healthy he will provide depth and athleticism on the frontline. The expected starting lineup for 2020 is likely to be Lykes, McGusty, Wong, Waardenburg and Miller. Brooks will push the latter two to start.

The projection of the 2021 NCAA Tournament bracket is conjecture more than 11 months before the brackets are announced next March. Just ask North Carolina how their 2019-20 season turned out versus their prognostications. Lunardi projects 10th seed Miami to play seventh-seeded Indiana in the first round in Wichita.

Lunardi has the winner between the Hurricanes and the Hoosiers matched up with the winner of Kansas and Montana 160 miles from the Jayhawks campus. Miami has not played Indiana, Kansas or Montana in their NCAA Tournament history. Playing in the lower Midwest would fit with Miami’s last two NCAA Tournament appearances.

Next: Miami center Nysier Brooks adds new dimension

Miami lost to Michigan State in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2017 and to Loyola (Chicago) in Dallas to begin the Ramblers Final Four run in 2018. The Miami trip to Tulsa in the NCAA Tournament was a loss to Michigan State. Miami last played a Big XII team in the NCAA Tournament in a second-round loss to Texas in 2008.

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