Miami Hurricanes Basketball: Prediction Time: How Far Can the Hurricanes Go?

Mar 16, 2016; Providence , RI, USA; Miami (Fl) Hurricanes head coach Jim Larra aga looks on during a practice day before the first round of the NCAA men
Mar 16, 2016; Providence , RI, USA; Miami (Fl) Hurricanes head coach Jim Larra aga looks on during a practice day before the first round of the NCAA men /

The best day in sports is upon us. It is finally the first Thursday of March Madness.

Non-stop games for 12 hours, buzzer-beaters and emotional connections with players and schools you have never even heard of. It really is madness.

The Miami Hurricanes will take part Thursday night as they open their 2016 NCAA Tournament with a first round matchup against the No. 14 seed in the South Region, the Buffalo Bulls. We looked tirelessly at Buffalo’s season that included a fresh start, tragedy and a hot finish that led them to the NCAA Tournament. We then evaluated what Miami needs to do in that matchup with the Bulls to come out victorious. Now it is time to make some predictions not only for the first round, but for Miami’s entire journey through the tourney.

Obviously when forecasting such a large tournament like this one, there will be upsets that rock the boat and alter the paths of multiple teams. With that being said, here is my best guess of how the Miami Hurricanes will do in an insanely tough South Region.

First Round: No. 3 Miami vs. No. 14 Buffalo

Buffalo is known for their up-tempo style, well that plays right into the hands of the Hurricanes.

This game should be a fun to watch as both teams get up the floor, but Miami’s athleticism and depth compared to Buffalo’s is just a mismatch waiting to happen. The Bulls could be dangerous as they come in as one of the hottest shooting teams in the country, but they haven’t played against a team like the Canes with size and athleticism all over the court since the non-conference. Those games didn’t go too well for Buffalo.

Some say that the Bulls were underseeded as a 14 seed, but it won’t matter as the Hurricanes have just too much talent and experience for Buffalo to handle.

Prediction: Miami wins an up-tempo matchup to move to the Second Round.

Second Round: No. 3 Miami vs. No. 11 Wichita State

In a first round upset, I have the Wichita State Shockers beating the Arizona Wildcats. Teams that can advance out of the First Four have already got those jitters out and are usually a team full of confidence.

The potential second round matchup between Miami and Wichita State would be a fascinating one. Both teams are full of experience, but they like to play at completely different tempos. While Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker like to slow it down and play in the half-court, we know the Canes would prefer to get out and run.

We know Wichita State could get hot after their First Four victory and we also know this Shockers team is even more tournament-experienced than Miami. In saying that, Wichita State is a low seed for a reason. Some may argue that they were underseeded as well, but you get whatever the committee gives you.

Miami and Wichita State would be a back-and-forth game with Van Vleet and Baker going against Rodriguez and McClellan to keep their college careers alive, but I think Miami has more around their stars than the Shockers do and the Canes advance to the Sweet 16 in a close one.

Prediction: Wichita State can’t contain Miami for the entire 40 minutes and the Hurricanes advance to the Sweet 16.

Sweet 16: No. 3 Miami vs. No. 10 Temple

UPSET ALERT. Now I know what many of you may be thinking, “How is Temple in the Sweet 16? There is no way that happens.” They call it March Madness for a reason.

I have the No. 10 Temple Owls beating a struggling No. 7 Iowa team in the first round and then in a Big Five, Philly matchup, I have the Owls beating No. 2 Villanova. The Wildcats have had a great season, but they haven’t gotten out of the first weekend in the last two years as a No. 2 or No. 1 seed. They have to show me they can first.

Against Temple, Miami would face a rematch of last year’s NIT semifinal where the Hurricanes won a tight one. We know the Owls love to slow the game down and muck it up as much as possible, but Miami just like last year will have too many options for Temple to try and shut down.

The Hurricanes win a defensive battle and move on to their first ever Elite 8.

Prediction: Against a hot Temple squad, Miami repeats their success from the NIT semifinals and moves on to their first ever Elite 8.

Quick disclaimer: Even if No. 2 Villanova advances to the Sweet 16, which is very possible, I still think Miami would beat them.

Elite 8: No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 3 Miami

This is the battle most people project in the South and wouldn’t it be awesome. The Jayhawks vs. the Canes for a place in the Final Four.

Miami would be looking for their first Final Four appearance in school history and would be looking to send Coach Jim Larranaga back to the mecca of basketball ten years after he did it with George Mason. Unfortunately, I have Miami bowing out at this stage.

For all the talent and athleticism that Miami has, Kansas has just the same, if not more. They are the No. 1 overall seed for a reason and to get to this stage, they would have had to possibly gone through No. 9 UConn and then No. 4 Cal or No. 5 Maryland. As a well-tested team with some of the best guard play in the country from Frank Mason III, Devonte’ Graham and Wayne Seldon Jr., the Jayhawks could matchup with the Hurricanes at every spot. Then you throw in a guy like Perry Ellis and you can tell why so many have the Jayhawks going all the way.

I think Miami would keep this game close, but to win, they would need career-best performances from Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan and Tonye Jekiri. It is possible, but I see Miami falling to Kansas in a close one in the Elite 8.

Prediction: Kansas just has too much depth for Miami and the Jayhawks move on to the Final Four in Houston.

The Miami Hurricanes are not only capable of getting to the Final Four, but they are also capable of winning a National Title. It would take a few breaks and a team in Miami that just gets hot at the right time, but we have seen Larranaga do that in the tournament before and this squad has shown they can beat almost anybody at their best.

No matter what happens, this has been a phenomenal year for Miami Hurricanes Basketball, now let’s see if they can make it historic.