Miami basketball will be tested at 2021 ESPN Events Invitational

Dec 12, 2020; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 12, 2020; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami basketball team will be tested early in the 2021-22 season at the 2021 ESPN Events Invitational in Kissimmee, Florida outside Orlando. Alabama, Belmont, Dayton, Drake, Iona, Kansas and North Texas are the other seven teams in the tournament. The bracket will not be released until later this summer.

Early season tournaments are returning in 2021 after they were limited in 2020 because of COVID-19. Miami played in the 2016 ESPN Events Invitational. The Hurricanes made the second of a school-record three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances later that season. Miami last made the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

The Miami basketball team is 15-9 all-time in early season tournaments. The Hurricanes’ last in-season tournament was the Charleston Classic in 2019. Miami defeated Missouri State before blowout losses to Connecticut and Florida. Miami’s last successful in-season tournament was as the 2018 Wooden Legacy runner-up.

Alabama and Kansas are the elite teams in the ESPN Events Invitational. Alabama lost in the South Regional Final to UCLA in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. The Crimson Tide were seeking their first Final Four appearance. Kansas is one of the marquee programs in the history of college basketball.

North Texas upset fourth-seeded Purdue as a 13th seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament before losing in the second round to fifth seed Purdue. Belmont is another elite mid-major program. The Bruins finished 26-4 in 2020-21 but missed postseason play when they were upset by Morehead State in the Ohio Valley Tournament.

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Drake defeated Wichita State in the first four before losing to USC in the first round of the NCAA Tournament who then defeated Kansas in the second round. The Bulldogs were 26-5 last season. Iona went to the NCAA Tournament last season under Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino. The Gaels lost in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament to Alabama. Miami will definitely be challenged in Kissimmee.