No, this is not your average game!
When Duke comes to town it is always special. But never before will the Bank United Center have been sold out nearly a week before, in anticipation. And never before has Miami been all alone a the top of the ACC, hosting the Dukies with 1st place in the conference on the line. To add to the luster, Dickie V will be in town to call the game for ESPN.
For one night, Coral Gables will be the center of the College Basketball Universe.
This is more then just a big game, this is an event.
From a short term basketball perspective, we may be blowing this contest out of proportion. Even with a win, they still have 13 tough conference games to go. BC proved that on any given night, any ACC team can make for a difficult night's work. A loss while disappointing, would not be the end of the world. It could easily be rationalized as a building block and a learning experience that a veteran squad makes the most of going forward. Miami would still be in excellent position to remain in the top tier of the ACC.
However in terms of not only cementing an NCAA Tournament appearance, but making a case for a high seed, as well continuing to generate a buzz for the team, a win would me enormous. Additionally, who knows how much a win might help in recruiting. Miami is after all a senior dominated team. The combination of Wednesday's big time atmosphere coupled with a win this substantial, would be huge selling points for Coach Larranaga and staff. Having a sold out BUC is the result of the team's exceptional work up until this point, but in all reality keeping it that way will depend on continued success.
Make no mistake about it, IF Miami defeats Duke Wednesday night in front of a sold out BUC, not only will they will vault into the rankings, it will arguably be the biggest win in UM hoops history. For so many reasons, this game is colossal.
Other significant games in the program's history:
- January 20, 2003 Darius Rice and Miami stunned the Conneticut Huskies 77-76 & electrified the Bank United Center. UConn appeared to have the game in hand when Ben Gordon hit two free throws with 8.9 seconds left giving them a 76-72 lead. What ensued next can only be described as remarkable. Armando Suratt raced up the court for an uncontested layup with 4 seconds left, cutting the lead to 2. Shamon Tooles of UConn proceeded to send an inbounds towards the far corner, when Rice used his length to get a hand on the ball for a steal and in one fluid motion step back and nail the game winning three. The last of Rice’s game high 43 points & his incredible 12th three pointer of the game sent the Bank United Crowd into an uproar and stunned the then 11th ranked Huskies. The only other Hurricane in double figures on that night is current NBA sharpshooter James Jones with 11 points.
Febuary 20, 2008, in a game for the ages, UM upsets Duke 96-95 at the Bank United Center. For UM fans this should be the archetype of what we want the BUC to look and feel like during home games. It was loud, it was exciting, the BUC was more then a home court advantage. It was a sixth man for the Canes!! Dwayne Collins went for 26 points, many of which were spectacular dunks or and ones. Always reliable Jack McClinton poured in 22. Miami built a huge second half lead in front of the emotional crowd, and used clutch free throw shooting to hold on as Duke rallied.
- Reggie Johnson (27pts, 12reb, 1stl) and Duran Scott’s (11pts, 6reb, 2ast, 2stl) led the way as UM shocked the Devils in Durham 78-74, last February 5th. Big Reg had one of his best games ever, going 11-17 from the field. He abused the Plumlees early and often, forcing Coach K to put Mason Plumlee on the bench in favor of his defensively-minded brother, Miles. It didn’t matter much. Kenny Kadji (15pts, 8reb, 1ast) was the perfect counterpart to Johnson’s dominance inside. Kadji did much of his damage from beyond the arc (4-5 on 3’s) and contributed on the boards. It was a signature win for a team that SHOULD have made the NCAA Tournament last season.
- Led by Coach Leonard Hamilton and starring Mario Bland, Vernon Jennings, and Johnny Hemsley Miami made the Sweet 16, following a 75-62 win over Ohio State (March 19, 2000) . UM finished the season 23-11. Hemsley, Bland and Jennings led UM to a four-year record of 80-41 (.661), tying a school record for most wins in a four-year period first set from 1962-66. The trio has also led UM to four consecutive postseason berths for the first time (the Hurricanes went to the National Invitation Tournament in 1997 and NCAA Tourney 1998-2000).