Miami Hurricanes Continue to Rise Up PollsBy Lucas M.
The Miami Hurricanes were unranked only a few short weeks ago. Now they’re the No. 14-ranked team in the nation. How did that happen? A resounding 90-63 home victory over the number one ranked team in the country and then a 71-47 route of ACC rivals Florida State back to back, that’s how. The ‘Canes are 6-0 in ACC play, and while that may not be as impressive of a calling card this year as it usually is (Duke is having a comparatively down season), it’s still a staggering achievement for a team that had low expectations entering the season.
“Our players have worked very hard to achieve certain goals and being ranked was one of them,” coach Jim Larranaga said. “However, it is still very early in the conference race with 12 games still remaining. Our goal is really to be at our best at the end of February and throughout March.”
The Hurricanes are one of the biggest surprises, and best stories, of the college basketball season. Their 11-spot jump up the rankings following their defeat of Duke and Florida State was the second biggest climb since the poll incorporated 25 teams in the 1989-1990 season. Miami is on an impressive run, but they’re already looking a month into the future. Even Florida State’s coaches and players were complimentary of Miami’s effort after their loss. “They played like a mature team that understands what it takes to grind it out,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “They could do great things this year.”
Miami has a massive matchup ahead of them against the resurgent No. 19-ranked NC State Wolfpack on Saturday, but they first have to take on Virginia Tech tonight. The Hurricanes started as 9.5 point favorites, but they’ve been bet up to 10. What’s not to love about Miami here? They’re 6-1 on the road this season, and are currently riding a seven game win streak. They’re winning games with strong defense too, allowing only 58.1 points per game while scoring 68.8. Interestingly, the Hurricanes have also been criminally undervalued by the bookmakers this year; they’re 12-3 against the spread, one of the best marks in college basketball, while the Hokies are only 7-8-1. The Hokies are only 2-4 in ACC play so far this season, a far cry from Miami’s unblemished record. Even though they have home court advantage, all signs indicate a big Miami win tonight. The far more intriguing match up lies in their near future against the fourth-ranked ACC team, the Wolf Pack. For now, however, the Hurricanes will have to hone their skills on an inferior Hokies squad. With their sharp combination of shooting and rebounding, these ‘Canes can make a sizeable impact on the college basketball landscape in the month before the Big Dance begins.
Miami fired a shot across the bow of the national media with their sensational demolition of Duke, and they’re just getting started. The cliché about “the team that no one wants to play” when the tournament starts has never been more true than it is with this lethal ‘Canes squad. “It was the margin that was surprising,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said after the Duke game to The Palm Beach Post. “I’ve seen Miami play a lot. They’re very good. They’re Top 20 good. They have good players at every position, which not every team has. But the margin was surprising. That doesn’t happen very often to a Top 5 team.”
For now, I think the Hurricanes crush Virginia Tech; take them at -10.