Miami Hurricanes Basketball: With Selection Sunday Approaching, Miami Still in the Hunt for No. 1 Seed

Feb 7, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Miami (Fl) Hurricanes guard Ja
Feb 7, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Miami (Fl) Hurricanes guard Ja /

Believe it or not, we now sit just 26 days away from Selection Sunday where the hopes of some teams are crushed in an instant and the dreams of others begin to take flight. For the Miami Hurricanes, this year’s Selection Sunday will certainly be a bit more of a celebratory occasion as Jim Larranaga’s squad has all but locked up their spot in the field of 68.

With around three weeks to go in the regular season and conference tournaments to follow, the top tier of teams are all jockeying for those top seeds which can make your path to Houston that much easier. While no one would likely see the Hurricanes as a No. 1 seed at the moment, they’ll have plenty of opportunities down the stretch to possibly sneak up into that top line. It may seem unrealistic, but with the chaos in college basketball this season, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Canes make a run up the S-curve.

There is plenty of statistics and rankings for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee to analyze and when looking at this data, it shows Miami isn’t too far off from the nation’s top teams. Below is not just Miami’s resume, but the profiles of eight other teams that are in consideration for those prized four No. 1 seeds:

Miami Hurricanes (20-4, 9-3 ACC)

Rankings: RPI: 9, KenPom: 12, BPI: 11, SOS: 34

RPI Top 100 record: 12-2 (7-1 vs. RPI Top 50)

Quality wins: vs. Utah (neutral), vs. Duke, vs. Notre Dame

Bad losses: vs. Northeastern, at Clemson, at NC State

Their case for a No. 1 seed

As we discussed above, no one in the college basketball world would currently have the Miami Hurricanes as a No. 1 seed, but with opportunities to pick up quality wins down the stretch, I think the Canes still have a shot.

Right now, Miami’s weaknesses lie with their three poor losses as well as their lack of a big-time win. Considering Miami still gets to play Virginia and Louisville at home as well as North Carolina and Notre Dame on the road, the Hurricanes strength of schedule will certainly skyrocket and those games will also give them chances for the huge win or wins they are looking for.

If Miami can find victories from three of those games (which I think is very possible), their resume will look like one of the best in the country. The Canes might not have that one big-time win as of now, but as we’ll see throughout this post, the Hurricanes currently have more RPI Top 50 wins than Villanova, Iowa, North Carolina, Maryland and Michigan State each have. Miami isn’t one of the blue bloods of college basketball, but their resume can match up with a lot of the teams considered as No. 1 seed contenders.

I mean considering Miami does have three poor losses, two of which are pretty bad, and the team hasn’t picked up a win over a “top team” yet, they still are ranked No. 9 in the RPI, No. 11 in the BPI and No. 12 in the KenPom rankings. That tells you how easily the Canes good jump up with a solid run down the stretch.

All I’m trying to say is Miami’s numbers are pretty good as it is, but now they’ll have an opportunity to get major wins that will boost their numbers and their profile. Up until now, the Hurricanes have played just one game against a Top 10 opponent, so they haven’t had numerous chances at big-time wins.

Now, they may not win any of those four games or they could even lose in one of their matchups with Virginia Tech, but all I’m saying is that this team has a chance at winning the ACC Regular Season title. Then when you combine that with a few opportunities left to get quality victories and a chance at an ACC Tournament title, that is a formula to move up to a No. 1 seed.

Miami may need a few results to go their way, but I certainly believe that this team has a chance at getting in as a No. 1 seed come Selection Sunday.

Kansas Jayhawks (22-4, 10-3 Big 12)

Rankings: RPI: 1, KenPom: 4, BPI: 10, SOS: 3

RPI Top 100 record: 13-3 (9-3 vs. RPI Top 50)

Quality wins: Oklahoma (2x), vs. West Virginia, vs. Kentucky

Bad losses: at Oklahoma State

Their case for a No. 1 seed:

Of all the teams on this list, Kansas and Bill Self likely have the strongest resume. Two wins over Oklahoma, who will likely be a top seed themselves, and only one bad loss has put Kansas in a great position. Unless the Jayhawks collapse the rest of the way, they’ll be a No. 1 seed and have a pretty good chance at being the No. 1 overall seed as well.

In comparison with Miami:

The only way the Hurricanes would be seeded above the Jayhawks is with a perfect end to the season that includes an ACC Regular Season and Conference Tournament title in addition to a few stumbles from Kansas.

Oklahoma Sooners (20-4, 8-4 Big 12)

Rankings: RPI: 3, KenPom: 6, BPI: 2, SOS: 7

RPI Top 100 record: 11-4 (7-3 vs. RPI Top 50)

Quality wins: vs. Villanova (neutral), vs. West Virginia, vs. Iowa State

Bad losses: at Kansas State

Their case for a No. 1 seed:

With the best player in the country, one poor loss and some eye-catching wins, Oklahoma certainly looks poised to earn a No. 1 seed. The Sooners have two losses by a combined seven points to Kansas and their non-conference blowout win over Villanova in December should carry some weight come Selection Sunday.

In comparison with Miami:

The Sooners have the same amount of RPI Top 50 wins as the Hurricanes, but their resume doesn’t include the bad losses. The only way the Hurricanes can catchup with Buddy Hield and Oklahoma is with a near-perfect ending to the season and a slip-up or two by the Sooners.

Villanova Wildcats (22-3, 12-1 Big East)

Rankings: RPI: 2, KenPom: 1, BPI: 3, SOS: 17

RPI Top 100 record: 12-3 (6-3 vs. RPI Top 50)

Quality wins: vs. Xavier, at Providence

Bad losses: none

Their case for a No. 1 seed:

Jay Wright’s team has picked up a few nice wins this season, but their biggest advantage is their lack of bad losses. The Wildcats only three losses have come against Oklahoma, Virginia and Providence and they continue to pile up wins against the top-heavy Big East.

In comparison with Miami:

Villanova’s only real advantage over Miami is the fact that their bad loss category is empty. The Wildcats win over Xavier looks good, but besides that their quality wins are lacking and the Canes could even cancel out that Xavier win with victories in this upcoming stretch to overtake them.

Iowa Hawkeyes (20-5, 11-2 Big Ten)

Rankings: RPI: 10, KenPom: 5, BPI: 9, SOS: 28

RPI Top 100 record: 7-5 (5-5 vs. RPI Top 50)

Quality wins: Michigan St. (2x), Purdue (2x)

Bad losses: none

Their case for a No. 1 seed:

I know this part is meant for my case to argue why Iowa should be a No. 1 seed, but I have no idea why people are projecting them there. Their two wins over both Michigan St. and Purdue are nice, but that’s pretty much it.

In comparison with Miami:

A few teams on this list like Villanova, Maryland and Iowa are in with a chance at a No. 1 seed because they have avoided bad losses, but all three of those teams don’t have many quality wins on their resume. Miami can pass over teams like Iowa with nice wins down the stretch as well as a deep run in the ACC Tournament.

North Carolina Tar Heels (21-4, 10-2 ACC)

Rankings: RPI: 8, KenPom: 8, BPI: 1, SOS: 52

RPI Top 100 record: 10-3 (3-3 vs. RPI Top 50)

Quality wins: vs. Maryland

Bad losses: at Northern Iowa

Their case for a No. 1 seed:

When you think about North Carolina this season, you would think they’ve been dominating good opponents all year, but when you look back at it, it’s actually not that exceptional. Again, like Iowa, UNC will point to their lack of bad losses as they have just one that came against Northern Iowa. Their win against Maryland in the non-conference will look nice though come Selection Sunday.

In comparison with Miami:

Of all the teams on this list, Miami has the most control over whether or not they can pass them. Whoever ends up with the ACC Regular Season title will have the slight edge going into the ACC Tournament and another title there would all but secure a No. 1 seed for one of these teams. The Canes head to Chapel Hill this Saturday in a game that will have so much influence on Miami’s seeding. If they can pull out a win, it’ll inch them closer to that regular season title and that No. 1 seed.

Michigan St. Spartans (21-5, 8-5 Big Ten)

Rankings: RPI: 18, KenPom: 3, BPI: 6, SOS: 54

RPI Top 100 record: 8-4 (6-4 vs. RPI Top 50)

Quality wins: vs. Kansas, vs. Maryland, vs. Louisville

Bad losses: vs. Nebraska

Their case for a No. 1 seed:

Unlike the last two teams, Michigan State actually has a variety of quality wins including their win over the Jayhawks which is going to be their trump card in 26 days. Michigan State won’t win the Big Ten Regular Season title, but a trophy in Indianapolis at the conference tournament along with a perfect end to the regular season could put Sparty in a pretty good position.

In comparison with Miami:

The Spartans real downfall in their resume is their strength of schedule which comes in at No. 54. Like North Carolina, that could hurt them when the committee evaluates the numbers as well as their position in the regular season standings of the Big Ten. Again, for Miami to pass Michigan St., the Canes would need to beat the likes of UNC and Virginia to get some big wins on the board to negate their three bad losses.

Virginia Cavaliers (21-5, 10-4 ACC)

Rankings: RPI: 5, KenPom: 2, BPI: 4, SOS: 19

RPI Top 100 record: 12-4 (8-1 vs. RPI Top 50)

Quality wins: vs. Villanova, vs. Miami, vs. West Virginia (neutral)

Bad losses: at George Washington, at Florida State, at Georgia Tech, at Virginia Tech

Their case for a No. 1 seed:

Virginia’s strength lies in their amazing amount of quality wins with an astounding eight victories against the KenPom Top 50. They’ve slowed down of late, but the Villanova win was a crucial one for the Cavaliers.

In comparison with Miami:

While Virginia is the only team on this list with actually more bad losses than Miami, they right now have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Canes with their win against them in January. The Hurricanes can more than make that up though if they beat the Cavaliers next Monday and finish above them in the ACC standings.

Maryland Terrapins (22-4, 10-3 Big Ten)

Rankings: RPI: 6, KenPom: 14, BPI: 15, SOS: 22

RPI Top 100 record: 8-4 (5-3 vs. RPI Top 50)

Quality wins: vs. Iowa, vs. Purdue

Bad losses: at Michigan

Their case for a No. 1 seed:

Having been ranked in the Top Five essentially all year, the Terrapins worst loss came at Michigan (ranked No. 50 in the RPI). They haven’t taken another defeat by someone lower than 50th in the RPI and that’s their argument come March.

In comparison with Miami:

Maryland has a great record, but they really haven’t beaten anyone. The Terps have just five wins against the RPI Top 50 and just two inside the Top 40. While Miami hasn’t gotten the recognition Maryland has, they have the same amount of losses and are playing in a tougher and deeper conference.

Overall, Miami controls their own fate over whether or not they get a one seed.  To be honest, I don’t see any reason why the Hurricanes can’t go 5-1 or even 6-0 in their last six against Virginia Tech (2x), North Carolina, Virginia, Louisville and Notre Dame. If they do finish that stretch 5-1 or 6-0, I think that’ll likely lock up the ACC Regular Season title for the Canes and if they win or get to the finals or the ACC Tournament, I don’t see how the committee can keep them out of the No. 1 seed conversation.

The Canes may shrivel under the pressure and lose some of the big games as well as their must-wins against Virginia Tech, but the way this team usually goes, they save their best performances for the biggest games. All that Miami can do is control their own results, but in this wacky season we’ve had, other teams may fall off the top like flies.

There’s plenty of basketball left and while Miami might not be getting the respect they deserve, a No. 1 seed is still a real possibility for this Hurricanes squad.