Canes to compete in NIT semifinals for first time

“Survive and advance” isn’t just the mantra for the NCAA Tournament.

The Miami Hurricanes have plenty to play for in this season’s National Invitational Tournament (NIT), and we saw that sense of urgency in the second half Tuesday night in Richmond.

Despite trailing by 18 points with 16:30 left in the game, we saw another Miami rally. The Canes have fought back from large deficits this season against Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Notre Dame – and in this game, like the contest at University of Florida (UF), Miami was able to complete the comeback.

This sends them to their first NIT semifinal appearance in program history.

Jim Larrañaga is plenty familiar with how a successful run in the NIT can set up a team for the following season. When Larrañaga was an assistant at the University of Virginia in 1980, the Cavaliers won the NIT championship. The following season, led by  dominant center player Ralph Sampson, Virginia reached the Final Four.

“If we can make a successful run in New York City, that sets us up in a position to be ranked in the preseason top 25 next year,” Larrañaga said on CaneTalk Live at the Rat last week.

This year’s team has already found more success in the postseason than the Hurricanes’ last NIT squad, which fell in the second round to Minnesota in 2012. Of course, with essentially the same roster,  Miami won an ACC Championship and advanced to the Sweet 16 the following season.

Who knows if similar success will come Miami’s way next season?

The anticipation is certainly already there, and many are anxious to see what transfer Kamari Murphy and freshman Anthony Lawrence bring to the roster.

Right now, it may not be the Big Dance or the ratings of a Sweet 16, but this is a tremendous opportunity for Miami – a chance to play in one of the most famous basketball arenas and experience success at a high level. The Canes may even have a solid fan presence in the Garden, with a large alumni base in New York City and the surrounding area.

Take some time next week and turn your televisions to ESPN. Miami has won six of their last seven games and plenty is at stake for the Canes.

It’ll be prime time, it’ll be competitive and if it’s anything close to their last four games, it’ll be incredibly entertaining.