Miami Hurricanes Basketball: What Miami Must Do To Earn An NCAA Tournament Berth


The Miami Hurricanes basketball team has played in the NCAA Tournament just two times in the last 13 seasons. The 2008 Hurricanes squad, featuring prolific scorer and sharpshooter Jack McClinton and a pro bowl tight end coming off of the bench, rode an upset over #4 ranked Duke into the NCAA Tournament as a 7 seed. In 2013, the ‘Canes earned a 2 seed in the tournament after a program-best season and ACC championship.

Entering this season, the experts projected Miami as a bubble team. Before dropping 3 of 4 games to lower tier programs, many figured the Hurricanes to be a lock for the 2015 NCAA Tournament. As it stands today, a tournament berth this season is very achievable, but far from a lock. What will it take for the ‘Canes to play in the big dance?

How Many Teams From The ACC Will Get In?

Playing in the ACC holds a lot of weight when it comes time to select the tournament teams. From 2010-2013, you could generally count on the top 4 teams from the ACC to make the NCAA Tournament. These teams included Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, and whichever team finished fourth.

The ACC has since taken in Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Louisville, while giving up Maryland. Each school added, excluding Notre Dame, is a perennial tournament team. This means that the top 6 or 7 teams from the conference will likely land berths in the tournament.

What Miami’s Record Must Be To Get In?

The record in conference play has a larger impact on NCAA Tournament seeding than the nonconference record. The Hurricanes must finish with a conference record at least two games above .500. This includes the ACC Tournament, which would allow Miami to make one last push for a tournament berth.

Which Individual Games Must Miami Win?

The Hurricanes’ victories over then-ranked opponents Florida and Illinois do not hold as much value as they once did. Although they are still quality wins, both Florida and Illinois currently sit outside of the top 25 rankings. Also, the blowout loss at home to Eastern Kentucky will be viewed as a very bad loss come March.

Fortunately, Miami can make up for that loss with additional quality wins during conference play. Miami hosts #5 ranked Virginia, #4 ranked Louisville, and #20 ranked North Carolina. The ‘Canes travel to #2 ranked Duke, #16 ranked Notre Dame, and #4 ranked Louisville. If the Hurricanes can grab a victory over Duke, Virginia, or Louisville and another ranked opponent, Miami will have an adequate amount of quality wins. Of course in the ACC, nearly every team is capable of earning a top 25 ranking by the time it plays Miami.

Will Miami Get In?

If the Hurricanes can recapture the level of play from the beginning of the season, they can beat any team on the schedule. This will require consistent 3-point shooting from those who have struggled of late (everyone). When Ivan Cruz-Uceda returns from suspension 3 games into the ACC slate, he will provide an upgrade at the power forward and center positions and allow Coach Larranaga to play a standard lineup, opposed to the one that utilizes Sheldon McClellan and Davon Reed as the lone big men.

I see Miami going 11-7 in conference play, finishing either 6 or 7 in the ACC standings, and landing a double-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Some important, fun games to look forward to include: Virginia, January 3rd at the BankUnited Center; Duke, January 13th at Cameron Indoor Stadium; Louisville, February 3rd at the BankUnited Center; North Carolina, February 28th at the BankUnited Center.