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Miami Basketball Faces Likely Elimination Game Tomorrow Night Vs Pittsburgh

'Canes and Panthers both on the bubble. The loser in this contest would probably need to win the ACC Tournament to go dancing.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Well it has come to this....

Miami (18-11, 8-8) travels to Pittsburgh (19-11, 8-8) to play the Panthers (8PM, ACC Network/ESPN3) Wednesday night in what essentially amounts to a survive and advance struggle.

Yes both teams will still have a shot to make some noise and maybe even win the ACC Tournament, but let's be honest, that's a long shot at best for either/both.

Both Pitt Coach Jamie Dixon and UM skipper Jim Larranaga will likely have more inspiring words than what fictional promoter George Washington Duke offered Tommy Gunn before his street fight with Rocky Balboa....

But much like Gunn, these two teams face dire circumstances should they lose.

Except in this case, rather than no spot in the sequel (or any other movie for that matter) the loser of this battle will probably find themselves in the NIT.

The winner will still have work to do, but will also have new life.

In the all important RPI, Pitt is much better off at #49 than Miami at #70.

But should the 'Canes win they could arguably vault the Panthers, because a head to head victory in the lone match-up of the two and one nonetheless this late in the season, would definitely weight heavy on the minds of the selection committee.

All in all, this game adds up to an elimination game.

So what will it take for UM to get the win?

First and foremost, they need to get some shots to fall.

Angel Rodriguez should be back, after playing just 3 minutes in last weekend's loss to UNC due to a sprained wrist.

No matter how much he plays,  he needs to be smart in his shot selection.

Rodriguez seemed to be in a half season long shooting slump, before last Wednesday's break out  8-14, 25 point, 5 assist performance in a 81-77 win over FSU.

UM could definitely use more of the same on the road at Pitt.

And as Coach Jim Laraanaga pointed out on Monday, Miami is a better road than home team this season, especially offensively.

They own wins at Syracuse, and at Duke.  And in conference play they average almost 5 points more a game when playing away from the BUC.

In order to continue that trend, they will also need Sheldon McClellan to continue his hot play.

In 4 games leading up to the UNC loss, the junior Texas transfer had been averaging just over 20 a game, on 56% shooting from the floor.

But in the loss to the Heels, he was plagued by foul trouble and had just 11 points on 4-10 shooting.

UM has plenty of weapons.   But outside of the irreplaceable inside presence of Tonye Jekiri, no player(s) on the team mean more than McClellan and Rodriguez.

Speaking of Jekiri, he will need to be his usual reliable self inside.

The Panthers boast a lot of weapons.  The best of which may be 6'9 235 pound F Michael Young (13.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg).

Young gets plenty of support from the heady back court of Cameron Wright and James Robinson.

Pitt is top 10 nationally in assists per game at just under 17.

Their bugaboo all season long has been playing away from The Peterson Events Center.

In their last game, they were stunned by Wake,  69-66 on the road.

So at home, they promise to be motivated.  With their crisp ball movements UM will need to be sound in their rotations in order to slow the Panthers down.

So will the road warrior Hurricanes come out and play inspired ball and get this do or die win, or will the friendly confines of their own gym and some  home cooking push the Panthers to play their best hoops?

Stay tuned to find out.

After all, the loser knows that the morbid warning James Washington Duke offered on the streets of Philly could apply to them tomorrow night,

"You lose, you're finished!'