Miami basketball disrespected in updated ESPN bracketology

Mar 26, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 26, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

ESPN resident bracketologist Joe Lunardi dropped the Miami basketball team one spot to ninth in his updated 2024 NCAA Tournament projections posted on Tuesday. Miami dropped one spot despite the announced returns of Norchad Omier and Nijel Pack plus the addition of Florida State transfer Matthew Cleveland in the last month.

The projected ninth seed by Lunardi is in contrast with ESPN ranking Miami 16th in its Way Too Early Top 25 that was posted on Friday. In addition to Omier and Pack, Woogla Poplar is the third returning starter and guard Bensley Joseph who was the sixth man last season is protected to become a starter in 2023-24.

The projection by Lunardi is in contrast to a team like Illinois that was a ninth seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament and moved up to fifth in 2024 Bracketology with the return of several players who declared for the NBA Draft and the addition of a few transfers. Miami did not need to add as many transfers as other programs.

Rutgers transfer Cam Spencer is considering the Miami basketball program with three other schools. Rising sophomore forward A.J. Casey and redshirt sophomore Jakai Robinson should be ready to step into bigger roles. Expect 6’10 and 240-pound freshman center Michael Nwoko to back up Omier with Casey.

Lunardi projects the Miami basketball program opposite eight-seed Xavier in the South Region in Indianapolis. That would be a 112-mile trip for Xavier. Purdue is the projected one seed in the South playing in Indianapolis against the winner of Morehead St. and Wagner from the First Four in Dayton.

The projection of the Miami basketball program as a ninth seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament fits the mantra of the Hurricanes entering the 2023 postseason of Don’t Pick Us. With many brackets and pundits picking Drake in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament Miami beat three higher seeds during its Final Four run.

Next. Hurricanes, Heat and Panthers combined to make history. dark

Miami is the only team in the country that has reached the Elite Eight in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments. With four of its top six scorers returning plus the additions of Cleveland and Nwoko, Miami should continue to be among the elite programs in the ACC and continue to be top 25 for most of the 2023-24 season.