With the month of March coming around quickly, the time for America’s favorite fantasy sport is coming quickly. The NCAA tournament starts about a month from now and picking this year’s bracket winners might be harder than normal with the amount of top 10 teams being beaten this year.
Teams such as Michigan, Duke, Louisville, Florida, Kansas, and Ohio State have all suffered massive upsets this year. Perennial power houses such as North Carolina and Kentucky are not even ranked currently this season. This season has undoubtedly been full of surprises and none more so than the hottest team in college basketball, the Miami Hurricanes.
If you don’t follow College Basketball then you might not know Miami is now currently 12-0 in arguably the best conference in college basketball, the ACC. Miami also currently is ranked 3rd in the nation with a 21-3 record and only 1 ranked team (Duke who they have previously beaten) left on the schedule going into tournament play. Their coach, Jim Larranaga, is also one of only three current head coaches in the ACC with final four experience, the other two being Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski.
Given all that, do I buy Miami as a legitimate contender to make it to the final four and win the NCAA tournament? The short answer is no.
While I do believe Miami is a good team with a great shot for the elite 8, Miami has been blown out of proportion recently the season. While being undefeated in the ACC is nothing to shrug off, the ACC is considerably weaker this year with only 1 other ranked team other than Miami. One can look at the Big 10 conference with 5 ranked teams and Minnesota who has been in and out of the rankings all season. The ACC is just weaker this year. Even though Michigan State lost to Miami in the first game of the year, I would still take them over Miami knowing that they are more battle tested, playing 7 ranked teams with 4 left on the schedule as opposed to 4 with 1 left in Hurricane’s case.
Miami also currently only has 3 wins over ranked teams, those being Duke, Michigan St, and North Carolina St while losing to ranked Arizona. While winning 3/4 against ranked teams is impressive, one should look at the conditions of these games. First Michigan St and Duke both being at Miami is a huge advantage. As for North Carolina St, while the game was away being a disadvantage, Miami only beat NCST off a tip in with .08 left in the game. Miami’s one ranked loss to Arizona was in Florida and was a beat down 69-50. If the game wasn’t earlier in the season, the team would be much lower in the standings.
The team also currently is not ranked in the top 50 in the country in the categories of rebounds per game, points per game, assists per game, or shooting percentage. Of the top 10 teams only Miami is not top 50 in at least 1 of these stats! 6 of the top 10 are top 50 in at least 3/4 of these with Indiana (the current #1 team) being top 50 in 4/4. With Miami not even being top 50 in any of these stats, don’t they seem a little overhyped?
Given all that info, I do not buy Miami to win the Big Tourny in March but, being ranked too high will give them nice seating to attempt an Elite 8 run.