The Miami Hurricanes have a two game lead in the ACC. In basketball. Just let that sink in for a second. The Canes are ranked #14 in the AP poll, their highest ranking since February of 2002. That’s 11 years ago! I was 7 years old at the time! I think most UM fans expected this team to be good, but I don’t think that anybody expected this. And the best part? This isn’t a fluke. Watch the games. Look at the numbers. They both tell the same story: This Miami team is legit. Just ask Coach K.
The thing about college basketball, however, is that any team can beat any other team. Just ask Coach L, who somehow took GEORGE MASON to the Final 4. That happened, I promise. That’s why Miami can’t fall asleep at the wheel. The Canes are going to Virginia Tech for this game. Ask any team in the country how they feel about playing road games during conference play. They probably don’t like it all too much. Miami’s closest game so far in conference play? At Boston College, who is currently 9-10 on the season. Just because Virginia Tech is only 2-4 in conference play doesn’t mean that this game is going to be a walk in the park for the Canes.
Virginia Tech Scouting Report
Most college basketball fans will tell you that Doug McDermott of Creighton is the best scorer in the country right now. Statistically speaking, that isn’t true. The nation’s leading scorer is Erick Green of Virginia Tech. Green averages 25 points per game on 49.5% shooting from the field, and 36% shooting from beyond the arc. I’m not an expert, but that sounds pretty good to me.
Outside of Green, this team is pretty meh. They allow 73.3 points per game, which ranks them 311th in the ranking in terms of scoring defense. That isn’t very good. Their rebounding differential is +0.3. Miami’s is +1.9. They score 74 points per game, which places them 3rd in the ACC. Unfortunately, when we adjust for pace, their offensive efficiency is 103.9, which is certainly good, but not elite, and a lot of that is fueled by Green being one of the best scorers in the nation.
Key For The Canes
Slow down Erick Green. This was an easy one, honestly. Miami’s only concern should be slowing Green down. If they lose this game (which I don’t think is very likely, but still,) they’re going to want to make Virginia Tech earn it, and that means making anybody that isn’t Green score. Durand Scott should be up to the task of slowing Green down. Scott has been given the task of covering Seth Curry (PG, Duke) and Michael Snaer (PG, FSU) in Miami’s last two games. They’ve scored 4 points. Combined. I’ve checked this multiple times just to make sure it really happened, and I can confirm that it did, in fact, happen. So yeah, I feel pretty confident in Durand Scott’s ability to contain Erick Green.
I’ve started hating this part of the column. This team is playing so well right now, and the roster works so well together, I really do not want to pick Miami to lose a game. Ever. With that said, it would be naïve of me to pretend that the Canes are going undefeated in conference play. It just won’t happen. I have them winning this game, and I’ll probably predict them to win every other conference game, just because I think they are the best team in the ACC with the way things stand now. But it won’t happen like that. Teams just don’t go undefeated in conference play. They just don’t.
Anyways, back to the Virginia Tech game. If the Canes are going to get upset, this won’t be the game. Miami is going to be most vulnerable against teams that play tough defense and turn the game in to a slugfest. Defense isn’t exactly Tech’s strong suit, and because of that, the Canes should take care of business in this one. Final score: 78-60 Miami.