So I couldn't help myself. I watched every highlight video, read every post game interview, and yet this morning I still had to watch yesterday's instant classic of an ACC Championship game again on DVR.
It was just as good the second time around.
Watching Shane Larkin (28 points 5 rebounds 7 assists) and PJ Hairston (28 points, 6 3 pointers) go at it was reminiscent (the showdown, not the players) of the battle between Ray Allen and Allen Iverson back in the 1995 Big East Tournament. Come to think of it Larkin and Hairston may have outdone their contemporaries (see the video below and judge for yourself).
Had Larkin not stole the show, you had the feeling Trey McKinney Jones (20 points 6 from downtown of his own) was also ready to step in and duel with Hairston.
Rion Brown (12 points 4 rebounds 3 assists) and Julian Gamble (11 points 10 rebounds) were also unsung heroes in yesterday's victory, but Miami may not have even advanced to the final with out the HUGE effort of Durand Scott (32 points against NC State) in the semifinals.
Here's one last look at the game highlights:
(courtesy ACC Digital)
Other thoughts from the week in Greensboro:
- UNC is in good hands next year with Marcus Paige (17 points 5 assists yesterday) at the point. He still has a way to go to catch up to Larkin, but if Reggie Bullock and Hairston both return, I could see him leading the ACC in assists in 2014.
- Dez Wells plays like a bull in china shop. Maryland really needs stability at the point next year to make it back to the Big Tourney. But Wells, with his Ron Artest like physicality, is a good place to start even with Alex Len seemingly on his way to the NBA.
- Watch out for BC next year. Olivier Hanlan can play! Joe Rahon compliments Hanlan well in the back court, and Eddie Odio provides the athleticism this team has been sorely missing. It's a great sign for the Eagles that the very capable Ryan Anderson suddenly seems like their third best option.
Looking ahead to Miami's chances in the Dance:
In the first round Miami gets the Pacific Tigers. Pacific takes 16.5 triples a game and shoots a hair over 38% on them. 6'0 180 pound Lorenzo McCloud averages 11.0 ppg and 4.0 apg to lead the way. They have a couple of 6'8 forwards in Tony Gill & Khalil Kelley, but do not appear to be a very big team. Among that games that stick out on their schedule, a 85-67 loss to Gonzaga 12/1, a 60-52 loss to Hawaii 1/18 (a team Miami beat), and a an 80-71 win in the rematch against the Rainbow Warriors 2/16. I know 15 seeds have had some success in recent years (most notably last season when Lehigh defeated Duke & Norfolk State took out Missouri), but I do not see Miami having much trouble on Friday.
In the second round UM faces the winner of the Illinois/Colorado game. More then likely the Fighting Illini advance. The Illini did manage to upset Indiana back on 2/7, but largely struggled against ranked teams, losing by double figures to Gonzaga, Ohio State, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin at different points of their brutal schedule. They are led by 6'4 Brandon Paul (16.6 ppg) and 6'3 DJ Richardson (12.4 ppg). At their best, they could give Miami trouble, but this another game I have a hard time seeing UM lose.
In the Sweet 16, UM could face Butler or Marquette. I will hold back on any further scouting or prognostications until we see how the bracket plays out. But know this, should the 'Canes advance this far they will face a serious challenge from whomever awaits. Fortunately, having to beat NC State and UNC back-to-back days in Greensboro was the latest test the Hurricanes passed with flying colors. So do not expect a letdown.
Be sure to keep an eye out as State of the U provides you full coverage of the 'Canes run in the NCAA Tournament.