Miami basketball secures No. 3 seed in ACC Tournament

Chris Lykes
Freshman Chris Lykes takes a 3-pointer in a matchup against Virginia Tech March 3 at the Watsco Center. Lykes finished with 15 points and seven assists in a 69-68 Miami win. Photo credit: Josh White

Just two weeks ago, it was uncertain whether the Miami Hurricanes would even finish in the top half of the ACC standings. Now, the team has officially earned a No. 3 seed and a double-bye in the ACC Tournament, which starts next Tuesday, March 6, in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

No. 11-seed Syracuse will face off against No. 14-seed Wake Forest at 7 p.m. March 6. The winner of that game will play No. 6 North Carolina the following night at 9 p.m. Then the winner of that matchup advances to play Miami in the quarterfinals at 9 p.m. Thursday, March 8.

After completing its season with a nail-biting 69-68 win over Virginia Tech, which came into the game with the same conference record as the Hurricanes, Miami recorded a conference record of 11-7, finishing in a four-way tie for third place in the ACC with Clemson, North Carolina State and North Carolina.

The Canes, who finished with a 22-8 overall record on the season and are now ranked No. 24 by the AP, won the tiebreaker against all three teams based on a 2-1 collective record against them head-to-head.

In the matchup against the Virginia Tech Hokies, the Hurricanes were down 68-66 with 1:13 remaining in the second half before a mid-range jumper by freshman Lonnie Walker IV to tie it and the free-throw by freshman Chris Lykes to win it with just three seconds left.

At that point, they just needed a North Carolina loss to Duke to secure a top-four seed. They got something even better – a North Carolina and a Clemson loss – which earned them the No. 3 spot.

The UM win against Virginia Tech marked its fourth consecutive contest that was decided by three points or fewer, tying a record last set by Duke in 1984. The Canes won all four.

“I told the team that they are like the Cardiac kids … They somehow are enjoying being on the edge at the ends of these games,” Miami coach Jim Larrañaga said. “I’ve coached for 46 years, and I can never remember four consecutive games ending on the final possession and winning all four. The guys did a tremendous job.”

This is the third time Miami has locked in a top-three seed in the ACC Tournament since Larrañaga’s arrival seven years ago. His team holds a record of 8-5 in the tournament during that span.