After weeks of wondering where they would end up, we finally know, Cane fans. Miami has earned a two seed in the East regional, and will face Pacific University in Austin on Friday.
The debate as to Miami's candidacy for a one seed began with Miami's 13-0 start to the conference, but cooled after losses in three of four games, including a home loss to lowly Georgia Tech. A surge in the conference tournament started to breathe life to the argument, and entering today, Miami seemed to have a legitimate claim to a one seed with a victory. Even Jay Bilas and Bruce Pearl supported Miami's candidacy.
But at the end of the day, there were four spots, and a heck of a lot more qualified teams than that. Louisville was obvious. Kansas, at 29-5 off a tournament championship, was worthy. Indiana was an unsurprising choice. Gonzaga (although seemingly the team most experts and fans have had a beef with on the top line) won 31 games and swept their conference. Miami even finished below Ohio State on the overall 1-68 team ranking, who punctuated their hot finish to the season with the Big 10 tourney crown.
Some fans might be upset with the Canes winding up on the two line of the bracket. However, the team didn't seem to mind the selection. As the decision was announced, the CBS cameras showed a seemingly happy Miami team, huddled around the ACC championship trophy, clapping and smiling.
And after looking at the bracket, Cane fans should probably be smiling and clapping with them, because it could have been worse. Ask bracket-of-death-bound Louisville.
The Canes open with the 15 seed Pacific Tigers, winners of the Big West tournament. I really don't know much about the Tigers, except they've been hot since the calendar hit 2013. After starting 6-7 on the year, they won 16 of 21.
Should Miami get past Pacific, they would face the winner of the Illinois-Colorado 7/10 tilt. The Illini have had tournament success this year, winning the Maui invitational back in November. They also have a number of wins over top-notch competition. However, they finished below .500 in the Big 10. Colorado, who finished 10-8 in the Pac 12, swept Oregon and beat Arizona.
Marquette/Davidson and Butler/Bucknell wait above in the 3/14 and 6/11 matchups, respectively. Honestly, I'm happy (I think) with Marquette as a three seed, when looking across the bracket at the other teams. New Mexico easily had the resume of a two seed, UF's guard play is worrisome, and Michigan State will be a tough out (although they wouldn't match up with Miami due to playing this year).
In the top half of the bracket, Indiana seems to have a pretty clear sailing to the Sweet 16, although NC State's athleticism and offensive ability can't be overlooked in that matchup if they can get past Temple. Five seed UNLV has a true road game at Cal (one of a few ridiculous committee moves), with the winner likely getting Syracuse. This has been an odd season for the 'Cuse. They lost 7 of their last 12 games after starting 18-1, but rebounded with a run to the Big East tournament final. If this is Jim Boeheim's last season (tea leaf reading by media of his recent golfing comments), the rally-behind-the-coach factor could be a scary thing.
In the end, I'm fine with where the Canes are. Eventually, you're gonna have to beat somebody very good to get to the Final Four anyways. Also, I really don't see much difference between 7/10 Illinois-Colorado and 8/9 Pittsburgh-Wichita State or UNC/Villanova. In fact, I think I'd rather have the former. And if they do get past the third round, they travel to DC instead of going out west.
What do you think, folks?