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Miami Basketball Opens Up March Madness with Buffalo: Open Thread/How to Watch

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The 'Canes recently concluded one of the best regular seasons in program history.

They went into the final game of the campaign with a shot at a share of the ACC Crown.

And while UM split two contests in the conference tourney, they still come into the Big Dance one of a handful of teams that has a shot at a deep run.

If a magical March is to happen it all starts tonight, with the plucky fast-faced Bulls of Buffalo.

I fully expect the Mid American Tourney Champs to come out playing like their hair is on fire.

This teams loves to push the pace, and shoot threes in bundles.

Blake Hamilton, Willie Conner, CJ Massinburg, and Jarryn Skeete all made 40 or more this season for the Bulls.

As a team they attempted 750 in 34 games (22 + a contest).

Two big keys to the game:

1) Sheldon McClellan, Angel Rodriguez, Davon Reed, and Ja'Quan Newton gets hands in the faces of the shooters.

2) Tonye Jekiri gets some points on the inside.

Prediction:

UM has too many players.  A guy like James Palmer can even come off the bench and produce.  The pace bothers them early, but they get huge second halves from Rodriguez and McClellan in a 20 point win.

Game Time/TV:  6:30 PM EST TNT

Live Stream HERE

Game Notes (Courtesy UM):

The Game

No. 10/11 Miami opens NCAA Tournament play in Providence, R.I., as the third seed on Thursday, March 17 at 6:50 p.m. against 14-seed Buffalo.

The Broadcasts

Catch the game on TNT with Ian Eagle, Chris Webber, Len Elmore and Evan Washburn on the call. Also check out the game on 560 WQAM radio with Joe Zagacki, the Voice of the Hurricanes and on NCAA Radio with Scott Graham and Donny Marshall.

The Coach

Head coach Jim Larrañaga has a 586-390 overall record in his 32nd season as a head coach. He is 116-56 in his fifth season at the University of Miami, with a 54-34 mark in ACC play. Coach L is 7-6 in the NCAA Tournament overall and 2-1 with the Hurricanes.

The Polls (as of March 14)

AP: Miami -10

USA TODAY: Miami - 11

KenPom.com: Miami - 13, Buffalo - 131

NCAA RPI: Miami - 9, Buffalo - 91

Miami’s 17-consecutive weeks in the polls top the school record of 12 from 2001-02.

UM has been ranked in the AP’s top 15 for 14 weeks this season, eclipsing the previous school record of 10 in the 1959-60 season.

The Canes are ranked 12-or-better in the AP for the eighth time this season, 15th time under Coach L, 19th time since 1985-86 and 26th time since 1959-60.

The Weather

Game day temperatures: Coral Gables - 85/71; Buffalo, N.Y. - 53/35.

The Note

Senior guard Sheldon McClellan is the 10th-most efficient offensive player in the country among players used in 20 percent of possessions, and 28th overall, according to KenPom.com on March 14. McClellan has posted the 14th-best shooting percentage (50.0%) in the country among guards, and has the top shooting percentage among guards in the ACC, according to stats on NCAA.org on March 14. McClellan’s 2-point shooting percentage is 54.6 percent this season.

The Anniversary

The 2015-16 season marks the 10-year anniversary of Coach Jim Larrañaga and George Mason University’s Cinderella run to the 2006 Final Four.

The Hurricanes in the NCAA Tournament

The Canes are the No. 3 seed for the first time in UM history. Miami’s highest seed has been No. 2, in 2013 and 1999.

All-time against potential 2016 regional opponents, Miami is 2-1 vs. Buffalo, 0-3 vs. Arizona, 0-0 vs. Vanderbilt and 1-0 vs. Wichita State.

The Canes are playing in the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time.

Miami is 6-7 in NCAA Tournament play.

Miami is 1-2 in tournament games played in the Northeast: Boston 1-1 in 1999; Washington, D.C. 0-1 in 2013.

Miami has played in the Sweet 16 twice, Second Round twice and played just one game three times.

Under head coach Jim Larrañaga, Miami is 2-1 in the NCAA Tournament in just four seasons. The Hurricanes were 4-6 in the first six appearances.

UM has won at least one game in the NCAA Tournament in four of the seven appearances, including two-straight and in four of the last five.

UM has won three of its last five games in the NCAA Tournament after going 2-1 in 2013 and 1-1 in 2008.

Five different coaches have led Miami to their eight NCAA appearances. Leonard Hamilton (3: 1998-00) and Jim Larranaga (2: 2013,2016) are the only coaches to lead the Canes to multiple NCAA berths.

Miami enters the NCAA tournament with six tournament wins in its history. Since the field expanded in 1985 six teams have reached the Final Four in a year where they entered the tournament with six or fewer all time tournament wins. One of those teams was George Mason in 2006, led by Jim Larrañaga. - via ESPN.com

Miami and Texas A&M are only two schools among top  three seeds who did not play in the NCAA tournament last year.

Miami Posts Third 25-Win Season

Coach Jim Larrañaga has posted his third 25-win season and fourth 20-win season in five years at The U. This is also his fifth-career 25-win season and 10th-career 20-win campaign. Larrañaga is just the second coach in Miami history with four 20-win seasons, joining Bruce Hale (1954-67) and the only Miami coach with a 25-win year.

This is Miami’s third 25-win year (all under Coach L) and seventh 20-win season since joining the ACC for the 2004-05 campaign.

13+ ACC Wins for the Second Time Under Coach L

Miami has won 13 games in ACC play for just the second time in school history, along with 15 wins in 2012-13. In five seasons under Larrañaga, the Canes have won seven-or-more ACC games each season. Prior to the arrival of Coach L, Miami had never won 10 ACC games in a season.

Miami as a Ranked Team

Miami is one of 13 schools in the country to win at least five games over top 25 teams this season:11-Kansas; 8-Oklahoma; 7-Virginia; 6-Texas, Xavier, West Virginia; 5-Miami, UNC, Michigan St., Wisconsin, Iowa, Baylor, Oregon. Miami is one of six schools to start the season unranked and defeat at least two top 15 teams: 5-Texas; 3-Iowa, Texas A&M, Xavier; 2-Miami, Oregon.

Tied for Most Regular-Season Wins

Miami was 24-5 in the regular season, tied with the 24-6 record in 2012-13, for the most regular-season wins in Hurricanes history. In Larrañaga’s five seasons, the Canes have the following records in the regular season: 2015-16: 24-5, 2014-15: 20-11, 2013-14: 16-15, 2012-13: 24-6, 2011:12: 18-11.

Best FG Shooting Percentage in 27 Years

The Canes are hitting 47.7 percent (837-1756) from the field, the best in Miami’s history since the 1988-89 season when UM was hitting 49.2 percent (1024-2083) of its shots. Miami’s 75.1 percent (527-702) at the line is the best since 77.1 percent (523-678 ) in 2001-02.

2015-16 Team Highlights

- First team in Miami history to sell out its home arena for the entire season.

- 24 regular season wins are tied with 2012-13 season for the most in Miami history.

- 13 wins in ACC play are the second most in school history, behind 15 in 2012-13.

- Perfect 9-0 at home in ACC play, 15-1 at home overall.

- Defeated five ranked teams: No. 3 Virginia, No. 11 Louisville, No. 16 Utah, No. 22/20 Butler and No. 24/20 Duke, with back-to-back wins over Virginia and Louisville.

- Ranked in the polls a school record 17-straight weeks. Ranked top-15 for a school record 14 weeks, including current streak of six-straight weeks.

- Won the Puerto Rico Tip Off, defeating No. 16 Utah, No. 22/20 Butler and Mississippi State by 20.0 points per game. Puerto Rico native Angel Rodriguez was named MVP.

- Won ACC-Big Ten Challenge game at Nebraska, 77-72 in overtime.

- Defeated in-state rival Florida, which was receiving votes at the time.

- Posted 11-1 non-conference record with only loss on a buzzer-beater vs. Northeastern. The Canes were 6-1 at home, 2-0 on the road and 3-0 at neutral sites.

- Coach L named ACC Coach of the Year for second time in four seasons.

- Sheldon McClellan named to the USBWA All-District Team, Coach L recognized as District IV Coach of the Year.

- Three players - Sheldon McClellan, Tonye Jekiri and Angel Rodriguez - named All-ACC, while Jekiri was on the ACC Defensive Team. Davon Reed was on the All-ACC Academic Team.

- Sheldon McClellan named to the 2016 ACC All-Tournament Second Team.