The third-seeded men’s basketball team is set to play 11-seeded Wichita State at 12:10 p.m. Saturday afternoon in a matchup to decide which team moves on to the Sweet 16.
Miami is a 2.5-point underdog to Wichita State, despite having a better win-loss record, being ranked higher in the polls the majority of the year and playing in what most would agree to be a much tougher conference, the ACC.
The Hurricanes (26-7) have been silencing the doubters all year and will look to continue to do so under the play of their two starting redshirt senior guards, Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan. The two average a combined 27.3 points a contest as well as six assists. When they are are both playing at a high level, Miami is extremely tough to beat.
Guard play will be even more vital versus this specific Shocker team. They are also driven heavily by their starting backcourt of guards Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet. The tandem is averaging a combined 26.2 points per game to go along with 8.9 assists.
Rebounding will be vital for Miami to pick up a win on Saturday. Wichita State is a deceptively good rebounding team. Despite their leading rebounder being 6-foot-4 Baker with only 4.6 boards per game, the Shockers more often than not outrebound their opponent. This puts added importance on leading rebounders senior center Tonye Jekiri, who averages 9.1 a game, and junior forward Kamari Murphy, who averages 5.9 a game. The team must use its talented rebounders to its advantage.
There is some history between Wichita State (26-8) and Miami Head Coach Jim Larrañaga. In 2006, the then Larrañaga led 11-seeded George Mason Patriots and defeated the seventh-seeded Wichita State Shockers 63-55 in the Sweet 16 game. Larrañaga went on to reach the Final Four with his George Mason group.
The game will start at 12:10 p.m. in Providence, Rhode Island.