Looking Ahead on Miami's Schedule: Can they Finish Above 500?

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

What UM faces as they head towards the ACC tournament and possibly a postseason birth.

The Miami Hurricanes Mens' Basketball team (13-13, 4-9) has been nothing if not unpredictable this season.  One game they can't hit the side of a barn, the next they make Steph Curry look like Greg Anthony.

Ok, perhaps not quite that good.

Today I will take a look at what they have left, and tackle the unenviable task of trying to forecast how they finish.

First up: Boston College (7-19, 3-10)

Saturday 2/22 Noon at home.

This was a game that a week ago would have been identified as the easiest one left on the schedule. Then the Eagles go out and upset #1 Syracuse on the road causing the entire ACC to do a double take. BC features one of the best pure scorers in the conference in 2013 ACC Newcomer of the Year Olivier Hanlan (18.2 ppg 43% FG). I had predicted them for 7th in the conference in the preseason because they also have an inside threat in Ryan Anderson (14.6 ppg 7.3 rpg) and a solid all-around PG in Joe Rahon. They have lost a lot of games by not finishing strong (sound familar?) and due to lack of interior defense.  The key for Miami will be crashing the boards and executing down the stretch. In more ways then one this game reminds me very much of UM's most recent game, a 71-64 win over perimeter oriented Notre Dame.

Prediction: The 'Canes gut this one out and BC comes back down to earth. UM holds on 68-66.

Next: Virginia (22-5, 13-1)

Wednesday 2/26 7 PM on the road.

On paper this looks like a total mismatch.  The Hoos have won 10 straight. They have one of the best starting line-ups in the nation featuring established star Joe Harris, emerging star Malcolm Brogdon, solid inside players Mike Tobey and Akil Mitchell, and a steady PG in London Perrantes. Their pack line defense always makes it hard for the opposition to score, and they rarely beat themselves. But like the Cuse, they specialize in winning low scoring, slug it out battles.  This means Miami has a chance to keep things close and possibly steal one. I wouldn't count on it though.

Prediction: UVA wins the battle on the glass and at the charity stripe and continues their hot streak with a 61-58 win.

Next: NC State (16-10, 6-7)

Saturday 3/1 Noon on the road.

Last time these teams met up the Pack squeezed out a 56-55 win in Coral Gables behind 27 points from ACC leading scorer TJ Warren (23 ppg). In that game, Miami missed a clutch FT with a chance to tie the game at the end and perpetually shot themselves in the foot.  Warren is a pure scorer and Ralston Turner isn't too bad either. But NCSU has struggled much of the year with their perimeter shooting, making them an ideal upset candidate for the 'Canes. Miami will need to keep this a half court contest and get good performances from Rion Brown and Garrius Adams to pull it off.

Prediction: UM has done some of their best work this year on the road and coming off of close losses. Coach L rallies the troops and Miami shocks the Pack 67-62.

Next: Clemson (16-9, 7-6)

Tuesday 3/4 on the road.

Clemson is having a much better season then I expected they would.  The key has been the outstanding play of KJ McDaniels (17.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.9 bpg).  The 6'6 junior wing is quietly having an ALL ACC type campaign. No team in the ACC relies more on one player on both ends of the court then the Tigers do McDaniels. Like Miami, Clemson plays one of the slowest paces in the country, and relies heavily on its' defense. To me this one comes down to who can make more contested jumpers. While Miami should have the edge with freshmen Davon Reed and Manu Lecomte shooting better of late, Littlejohn Coliseum is one of the toughest places to win at in the ACC.

Prediction: First team to 40 wins.  Clemson stifles Miami on a hard fought 48-43 win.

Next: Wake Forest (14-12, 4-9)

Saturday 3/8 at home.

Senior Day at the BUC should be special for guys like Donnavan Kirk, Rion Brown, Erik Swoope, Raphael Akpejori, and Garrius Adams. Look for the 'Canes to come out fired up. Devin Thomas is a handful inside for the Deamon Deacs, and Codi Miller-McIntyre has really improved in his second year in Winston Salem. However look for Kirk to control things down low, and Brown to cap a very good senior season with a big day.

Prediction: Miami plays one of their best games of the season and rolls 74-60.

If my prognostications are correct, the Hurricanes will finish the season 3-2 giving them a respectable 16-15, 7-11 record. From there one win in the ACC Tourney would likely clinch an NIT invite. of course the 'Canes will look to ride any momentum to some upsets in Greensboro, and anything is possible if they get on a roll.

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