So while UM certainly has to feel good coming off a big time 65-60 win over NC State, they have no time to bask in the glory.
Today they head to one of the most difficult atmospheres in the country, the Carrier Dome, to face the Syracuse Orange (14-5, 5-1).
To get the scoop on what on what the Hurricanes will be facing, how the game might play out, and much more, we spoke to John Casillo at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, SB Nation's Syracuse site.
Here is our full Q&A with John:
SOTU: Syracuse is 5-1 in conference and sitting near the top of the ACC, yet few pundits are talking about them. Are they the real deal? How much of their success has been schedule related, and how much has been solid play?
TNIAAM: It's really schedule-related, unfortunately, because outside of a commanding win over Florida State and a closer-than-it-needed-to-be victory over Boston College, we really haven't looked all that competent in conference play. When Chris McCullough was still in the lineup, I was willing to believe this team would grow and get better as the year wore on. Now, we're going to need some luck -- especially with the brutal upcoming slate.
SOTU: Is there a more improved player, nonetheless a Big, in the country than Rakeem Christmas? Talk to us about what has made him such a force in 2014-15.
TNIAAM: Doubt it, honestly. Christmas has always been one of the most athletically gifted players on the floor throughout his time at Syracuse. But now, the offense is specifically designed to take advantage of those gifts -- and coupled with the work he's put in during the offseason... well, you see the results. He's a great free throw shooter who's not afraid of contact, but someone who has also gotten a lot smarter in terms of fouling. What he did against Wake Forest, in particular, was an absolute treat to watch. And unfortunately, we kind of need those sorts of efforts from him more often than not.
SOTU: What version of Trevor Cooney shows up Saturday afternoon? Is he going to shoot Miami right out of upstate NY, or keep the 'Canes in the game by being as ice cold as the weather outside?
TNIAAM I wish I knew which Trevor would show up night to night, because it would really help my sanity, as well as the team's game plan. Lately, Michael Gbinije has helped from the perimeter as well, but this offense finds its way much better when Cooney can hit shots. Obviously I hope he can be accurate from outside on Saturday, but I have no idea if that actually happens.
SOTU: What match-ups/players on the 'Canes concern you?
TNIAAM: Sheldon McClellan's ability to shoot with a high percentage from the floor is concerning -- especially from three, where we've been vulnerable for years, but even more so this season. Angel Rodriguez is also one for us to watch out for, since I think he has an ability to slash our zone in ways he may not have been able to in the past. The Syracuse defense is still very good, but there are holes that haven't been there in the past. A player like Rodriguez can really thrive in transition against them.
SOTU: Give us your way too early ALL-ACC first and second teams please?
First team: Trevor Lacey (NC State), Jerian Grant (Notre Dame), Montrezl Harrell (Louisville), Rakeem Christmas (Syracuse), Jhalil Okafor (Duke)
Second team: Angel Rodriguez (Miami), Quinn Cook (Duke), Terry Rozier (Louisville), Sheldon McClellan (Miami), Tonye Jekiri (Miami)
SOTU: Last but not least, who wins this game and why?
TNIAAM: I'm not all that optimistic about Syracuse winning this game, if only because they're going to need to find way to stop Miami from hitting threes, AND scoring more than 70 points (since we've been struggling to hit that number). Unfortunately, I just don't think Syracuse can do both. Christmas will do what he can, but unless the good version of Trevor Cooney shows up, I don't see SU being able to win this one. Miami 74, Syracuse 66.
Thanks again to John for working with us. Be sure to check out the game this afternoon. Details below.