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Miami Basketball Opens NIT Tonight Vs North Carolina Central

Will the 'Canes come out with something to prove, or will the disappointment of missing the NCAA Tourney haunt them?

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

One would imagine when you are used to playing North Carolina and North Carolina State,  it is only human nature that you don't get quite as "up" for North Carolina Central.

Add to the fact that you have just been snubbed by the NCAA Committee and are playing in the NIT and not the "Big Dance" and a trap/letdown game would seem inevitable.

However, if you look at recent seasons, teams who won the NIT often followed it up with successful runs the next year (Baylor, Stanford, and Wichita state are 3 of the past 4 winners who all followed up Championships with big years the next season) so there is reason for motivation.

Head Coach Jim Larranaga's message to his team,

"I told them there's only 100 teams still playing and we're one of those teams. I'd like to keep playing, and I'd like to think my team wants to keep playing. We have so many underclassmen that will be back next year, if we could do very well in the NIT, it would be a great foundation for next season."

Read more here:

Indeed, the 'Canes will lose just one player off this current roster, graduate student Joe Thomas.

With young players like Omar Sherman, JaQuan Newton, and Deandre Burnett still learning the nuances of big time College Hoops, the more experience the better.

Furthermore the Tournament provides them a chance to work on their biggest flaw, consistency.

Miami has been all over the place this season, featuring road wins at Florida, Duke, and Syracuse, but inexplicably falling at home in blow outs to Eastern Kentucky and Georgia Tech.

In NCCU they face a team that blew trough its' conference regular season at 16-0, only to lose in their conference tourney to Delaware State.

They are an undersized but scrappy group, led by 6'7 senior F Jordan Parks.  The Queens, NY produce averaged 15.3 ppg and 8.3 rpg this season.

Another senior, Anthony McDonald, is their best shooter.  He comes in at 13.1 a game and 38% from distance.

And there's a pretty decent chance the Eagles will come in highly motivated, having come so close to the NCAA Tournament themselves..

This is just the kind of game that has given UM fits all season long.

Have they learned from their past?  Can they overcome the gut punch that was Selection Sunday?

Tune in to find out.

Game INFO:

North Carolina Central at Miami Hurricanes

When: March 17, 2015 | 7 p.m.

Where: BankUnited Center  |  Coral Gables, Fla.


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