The Alabama Crimson Tide’s Men’s Basketball Team will face the Iona Gaels in its first game of ESPN’s Events Invitational. The matchup was announced Thursday afternoon.

Alabama vs. Iona is Nov. 25, 2021, at 4 p.m. CT, with the channel still being decided- between ESPN or ESPN 2.

The ESPN Events Invitational consists of eight teams: Alabama, Belmont, Dayton, Drake, Iona, Kansas, Miami and North Texas; this mini-tournament takes place at HP Fieldhouse in Kissimmee, Fla., on November 25-26 and 28, 2021.

The Tide is coming off of one of its best seasons: finishing 5th in the 2020-2021 AP Poll, winning the SEC Title, and making it to the Sweet 16, losing in OT to UCLA; and it still looks like the best has yet to come for head coach Nate Oats and his Tide crew.

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The Gaels, although un-ranked, also is coming off a stellar year; finishing 12-6 overall, winning the MAAC Title, and making an appearance in the March Madness Tournament. Two components of this matchup makes the game feel bigger than it first seems.

First off, for the Gaels, this is personal. After the team’s 68-55 loss to UA in the first round of the 2021 NCAA March Madness Tournament, they want revenge.

Secondly, Rick Pitino. An iconic figure in the college basketball community, Pitino is one of the most knowledgeable coaches in the NCAA. Not only is he ready to make his new mark on the sport and his career, but also comes from a background of SEC rivalries, coaching the Kentucky Wildcats from 1989-1997 and upsetting the 1987 Crimson Tide team in the 1987 Tournament while coaching Providence. According to the Pitino/Alabama SI.com article, Pitino is 10-3 all-time against the Tide.

The rest of the Tide’s schedule has yet to be released.

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