I’m going to preface this post with two comments:
1) This post is operating under the assumption that Miami continues their current pace. I’m not assuming they go undefeated in the ACC, but with the #2 RPI and #1 SOS, it feels safe to assume that the Canes will be a high seed in this year’s tournament. I fully acknowledge that the Canes could hit a cold stretch and start losing, and that this post could be null and void.
2) There’s no point in me listing every low seed in the tournament and saying "THE CANES COULD KILL THIS TEAM!" Do I need to tell you that Miami would handle Charleston Southern? No, I don’t. In addition to that, I can’t go through every high seed and tell you how the Canes match up against them, so I’m going to pick and choose a few.
Okay, let’s get started.
Good Match Ups
Missouri Tigers (16-5, 5-3 in the SEC). Let’s be honest: Every Canes fan on the planet wants a shot at Frank Haith. Every. Single. One. And in this years tournament, we may very well get our shot. According to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, the Tigers currently project as a 7 seed, and assuming Miami earns a 2 seed, we could very well meet in the round of 32. Admittedly, Laurence Bowers could pose a bit of an issue for the Canes: He’s probably too big for Durand Scott, but too quick for Kenny Kadji on the defensive end. Outside of that, I think the Canes match up quite well against Mizzou, and frankly, I’d love to watch Shane Larkin battle Phil Pressey all game. Furthermore, Missouri isn’t a great defensive team: they allow 0.96 points per possession, which ranks them only 100th in the country. As we saw against NC State and UNC, the Canes have success against average defensive teams with superior offenses.
New Mexico Lobos (19-3, 6-1 in the Mountain West). I was surprised when I looked up the stats for New Mexico. I knew that they were a successful team, but for some reason, I had them pegged as an offensive juggernaut. I was wrong. The Lobos are average offensively (1.01 points per possession, 155th in the country), but very sound defensively (0.92 points per possession, 48th in the nation). New Mexico is currently projected as a 4 seed, so Miami would either need to move up to a 1 seed or New Mexico would need to move up to a 3 seed (or down to a 6) for this match up to likely happen, but anything is possible.
Georgetown Hoyas (16-4, 6-3 in the Big East). Georgetown is averaging 64.2 points per game, which ranks them 251st in the country. Even when we adjust for pace, they average only 1.01 points per possession, which would put them at 155th overall. Moral of the story: they aren’t a great offensive team. Defensively, they’re great. They allow 0.87 points per possession, which is the 7th best mark in all of college basketball. The reason I like this matchup is Miami’s offense is much less likely to go stagnant with all the weapons they have now that Reggie Johnson is back. The Hoyas are currently projected as a 6 seed but have been moving up lately.
Bad Match Ups
Florida Gators (18-3, 8-1 in the SEC). Over the last few weeks, while Miami basketball has been on the rise, I’ve seen an awful lot of Canes fans saying things like "BRING ON THE GATORS IN THE TOURNAMENT BABY!"… Yeah, we don’t want that, you guys. I know it sounds fun, but really, I’d rather not play them. They allow the 2nd fewest points per possession in the country defensively at 0.83, and as good as our offense can be, we also have a tendency to go cold, and frankly, I’d rather not risk it. Plus, UF is the 21st best 3 point shooting team in the nation, as well as the 6th best overall at 1.17 points per possession. Fortunately, the Gators are likely to get a #1 seed in the tournament (unless they play like they did against Arkansas a few more times), so we wouldn’t see them until the elite 8.
Michigan Wolverines (21-2, 8-2 in the Big 10). This Canes team plays great, great defense. It’s probably our biggest strength. Unfortunately, Michigan is the best offense in the country, at 1.21 points per possession. That’s a lot, y’all. They have so many weapons on offense, from Trey Burke to Tim Hardaway Jr. (Thanks, Frank Haith!), to Nik Stauskas, we’re better off just avoiding them all together, if we can. Much like the Gators, the Wolverines will likely get a 1 seed in the tournament, so assuming we get a 2, we won’t see them until the elite 8 at the earliest.
Indiana Hoosiers (20-2, 8-1 in the Big 10). The #2 offense in the country and the #7 defense in the country, coupled with national player of the year candidate Cody Zeller and sleeper candidate Victor Oladipo? No thanks, but I appreciate the offer. This is also the 3rd one seed on this list. It seems cliché to say that I don’t want to play the really good teams, but it’s the truth.
Colorado State Rams (19-4, 6-2 in the Mountain West). Let me introduce you to Cinderella. While the Rams are currently ranked #24 in the nation, I can assure you that nobody has them on their radar for March, except me. When you opened this post, you probably didn’t expect Colorado State to be on this list. But here they are. And here’s why: The Rams are the #1 overall rebounding team in the nation at 42.4 per game. They turn the ball over at the 24th lowest percentage (out of 347) in the country. They have the 10th highest offensive efficiency in the country. Their top 5 players in terms of minutes? All seniors. CSU currently projects as a 7 seed, according to Joe Lunardi. If Miami somehow hits them in the 2nd round, I’ll be veerrrryyy nervous.
Butler Bulldogs (19-4, 6-2 in the A-10). Nobody wants to play Butler in March. They just don’t.
Here’s the [beautiful] thing about March Madness: There’s teams that weren’t even on my "bad matchups" radar that will give the Canes a run for their money in the tournament, and there’s teams that were on my "good matchups" radar that will give the Canes a run. At the end of the day, anybody can beat anybody. And it’s awesome.