The Miami Hurricanes are against the wall and have no room for error.
The No. 9-seed Canes must win at least one game in the ACC Tournament. But it won’t be easy for the Hurricanes; they will play the No. 8-seed Virginia Cavaliers in the first round in Greensboro, N.C.
After a tough ride through the ACC this year, Miami’s record sits at 18-13 and 6-10 in the ACC. The Canes would have to win the ACC tournament in order for them to reach the NCAA tournament, but one win could earn them a bid to the NIT.
The Canes are used to making a run in the ACC tournament. In four of the past five tournaments, Miami has won at least one game.
The last time the Hurricanes lost in the first round of the ACC Tournament, they went to the NIT. Miami had an 18-12 and 7-9 ACC record that season.
Last year, the Canes got hot in the ACC tournament and reached the semifinals, but lost to the eventual ACC and National Champion Duke Blue Devils, 77-74. Miami had a halftime lead and then-freshman Durand Scott finished with 21 points.
The Hurricanes have already played on this court this season, beating North Carolina Greensboro, 78-58. Four players scored double-digit points and the Canes nailed 12 3-pointers.
Head coach Frank Haith knows it is important for his team to continue to play another game after the ACC tournament.
“This team needs to play games,” said Haith, whose team missed out on postseason play last year. “Outside of Adrian [Thomas], everybody is back [next season]. Whether it’s the NCAA tournament or NIT, we’d be very happy to compete in the postseason. It’s important for this team to get into the postseason.”
Earlier this season when the Hurricanes played Virginia, Miami had to force overtime and eventually won 80-78 at the BankUnited Center. Virginia was leading the Canes by 5 points with 38 seconds remaining in regulation but blew the lead. Miami rallied behind guard Malcolm Grant’s free throws, a 3-pointer by freshman Rion Brown, and three free throws by Brown. The Cavaliers fouled the Canes on two 3-point tries in the final minute.
The Hurricanes will need their stars to step up in the ACC tournament. Grant was named to the All-ACC Third Team and redshirt sophomore forward Reggie Johnson earned honorable mention.
Grant was one of two players to lead the ACC in three different statistical categories. He leads the league in 3-point field percentage (.436), 3-point field goals made per game (2.6) and free throw percentage (.873).
If the Hurricanes win, the Canes will play No. 1-seed North Carolina. Miami lost to UNC in the final minute, 74-71, earlier this season.
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.