Well we all know what is on the line tonight.
UM can make their first ever appearance in the Elite 8 with a win tonight (7:10 PM EST CBS) Vs the Cats.
The 'Canes have had a fantastic season, finishing 13-5 in the ultra competitive ACC (6 of the 16 teams remaining are from the Atlantic Coast Conference).
And certainly their two wins in the Big Dance thus far have legitimized their season.
But tonight, a victory would take things to another level.
If they can win this evening, they will play for a shot at the Final Four.
That my friends, is another level.
Miami is a 4.5 point underdog, but most pundits think this game can go either way and will come down to the last few possessions.
Both teams like to play a lot on the perimeter, and let their guards dictate the pace.
Two big keys for tonight:
1) When Nova amps up the pressure, make them pay. Angel Rodriguez needs to penetrate and find Sheldon McClellan and Kamari Murphy for lobs, or Davon Reed for open corner threes. Villanova loves to mix in some 1-2-2 pressure as well play tough on the ball man-to-man . There will be times this leaves openings for easy buckets. UM must capitalize.
2) Guard the three ball. Think back to Buffalo, but with a much, much better group of shooters. Reed, McClellan, and Murphy must use their length to bother shooters like Josh Hart, Ryan Arcidiacano, Jalen Brunson, and especially smooth 6'6 240 pound Kris Jenkins. Rodriguez can go for steals, as he always does, but he better recover when he misses or there will be hell to pay. Additionally Tonye Jekiri needs to be big at the rim when defenders push the shooters off the line and toward the basket. If Nova lights it up from deep, the Hurricanes will be in big trouble.
Enjoy the game Miami fans.
Game Notes (Courtesy UM):
No. 10/11 Miami marches on into the Sweet 16 as the third seed, facing second-seeded No. 6 Villanova Thursday at 7:10 p.m. in the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.
Catch the game on CBS with Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson (reporter) on the call. Also check out the game on 560 WQAM radio with Joe Zagacki, the Voice of the Hurricanes.
Head coach Jim Larrañaga has a 588-390 overall record in his 32nd season as a head coach. He is 118-56 in his fifth season at the University of Miami, with a 54-34 mark in ACC play. Coach L is 9-6 in the NCAA Tournament overall and 4-1 with the Hurricanes.
The Polls (as of March 21)
AP: Miami -10, Villanova - 6
USA TODAY: Miami - 11, Villanova - 6
KenPom.com: Miami - 11, Villanova - 4
NCAA RPI: Miami - 9, Villanova - 4
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.
Game day temperatures: Coral Gables - 82/72; Villanova, Pa. - 64/49.
In a pair of NCAA Tournament games, Angel Rodriguez is averaging 26.0 points, 4.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 steals in 35.0 minutes per game. The point guard is hitting 57.7 percent of his shots from the field, including 60.0 percent from two and 54.5 from three, as well as 84.2 percent at the line. Hitting 9-of-11 free throws and a trio of shots from long range, he dropped 28 points on Wichita State in the Second Round and had 24 points and seven rebounds against Buffalo in the First Round.
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.
In Two NCAA Tournament Victories...
- Miami has held its opponents to 36.4 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent from three, as Buffalo hit 38.5 percent from the field and Wichita State hit 27.3 percent of its shots.
- The Canes have knocked down 42-of-57 shots from the free throw line while opponents are 27-of-36.
- UM averaged 22.0 bench points per game through its first 32 outings of the season, and has only averaged 6.0 points from bench players in two Tournament games.
- Of the six players who have scored, five are shooting at least 47.0 percent from the field.
- Angel Rodriguez has averaged 26.0 points per game and Sheldon McClellan has tallied 19.0 ppg. The duo have scored 62.5 percent of Miami’s points.
- Kamari Murphy has averaged 10.0 rebounds and Davon Reed has grabbed 8.0 rpg.
The U Against Ranked Teams
In eight games against ranked teams, Miami is 5-3 with wins over No. 3 Virginia, No. 11 Louisville, No. 16 Utah, No. 20/22 Butler and No. 24/20 Duke, and losses to No. 13/11 Virginia, No. 5/4 North Carolina and No. 3 Virginia. In those games, Sheldon McClellan averages 14.8 points per game, hitting 48.7 percent from the field. Angel Rodriguez averages 13.1 points and 4.4 assists, while Tonye Jekiri records 8.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Complete stats against ranked teams are on page 11.
Top 10 Matchup
The game between No. 10 Miami and No. 6 Villanova is the Hurricanes’ first top-10 (AP poll only) matchup of the season, second of Coach L’s tenure at The U and third in program history. The first was a 79-76 loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Miami was ranked No. 5 and Duke was ranked third in the country at the time. In UM’s history, the Canes also played in a top-10 matchup on March 5, 1999, No. 9 Miami’s 62-59 loss to No. 10 St. John’s.
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 10-13 vs. Villanova, 13-9 vs. Maryland and 1-3 vs. Kansas.
Miami is 0-1 against second-seeded teams - Lost 75-72 to Texas in 2008 in the Second Round. The Canes were the seventh seed at the time.
The Canes are playing in the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time.
Miami is 8-7 in NCAA Tournament play.
Miami will play in its third Sweet 16, has played in the Second Round five times and played just one game three times.
Under head coach Jim Larrañaga, Miami is 4-1 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 five of the eight appearances, including three-straight and in five of the last six.
UM has won five of its last seven games in the NCAA Tournament after going 2-1 in 2013 and 1-1 in 2008.
Five different coaches have led Miami to its eight NCAA appearances. Leonard Hamilton (3: 1998-00) and Jim Larrañaga (2: 2013, 2016) are the only coaches to lead the Canes to multiple NCAA berths.
Miami entered the 2016 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.
What’s Trending in the NCAA Tournament
Anthony Lawrence has blocked a shot in both games.
Davon Reed hit a pair of threes in each outing, scoring 10 points each time.
Sheldon McClellan hit five shots from the field in each game. He scored 18+ points in both games and hit at least six free throws each game. "Mac" had one steal in each outing.
Angel Rodriguez hit a trio of 3-pointers in each game. He scored 24+ points, dished out at least four assists and had at least three steals in each outing.
Kamari Murphy grabbed at least seven rebounds in both games. He also had at least two blocks in each game.
What’s Trending this Season
Ja’Quan Newton has at least 10 points and two assists in three of his last four games.
Davon Reed has scored 10+ points in 13 of his last 16 games, and 17+ four times in that span. He has hit a three in five-straight outings.
Sheldon McClellan has tallied double-digit points in 22-straight games. He has scored 15+ points in six-straight outings.
Angel Rodriguez has recorded 17+ points in five of the last seven outings. He also has hit a 3-pointer in 12-straight outings. He has posted 3+ assists in 14 of the last 16 games, including nine vs. Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament and seven vs. Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament. He also has at least one steal in six-straight outings and multiple takeaways in five-straight games.
Kamari Murphy has pulled down 4+ rebounds in 11 of the last 12 outings.
Tonye Jekiri has pulled down 5+ rebounds in 20 of the last 21 games
Comparing Miami‘s 2012-13 Squad to the 2015-16 Canes
In 2012-13, Miami was 29-7 overall, earning the ACC Regular Season and ACC Tournament Championships. That season, the squad played in the NCAA Sweet 16.
Senior Tonye Jekiri is the lone player on both teams.
Both teams were unranked in the preseason AP poll and finished the season in the top-15.
Senior leadership: Both had four seniors play at least 13+ minutes per game.
Both had point guards average double figure points and 4+ assists: Shane Larkin (14.5 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Angel Rodriguez (12.6 ppg, 4.4 apg).
Both had sophomore guards average double figure points and 2.5+ assists: Shane Larkin (14.5 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Ja’Quan Newton (10.8 ppg, 2.5 apg).
Guards were the top two leading scorers on both teams: Shane Larkin (14.5 ppg) / Durand Scott (13.1ppg) and Sheldon McClellan (16.0 ppg) / Angel Rodriguez (12.6 ppg).
Both teams had three transfers who played significant roles: Shane Larkin, Kenny Kadji, Trey McKinney-Jones and Sheldon McClellan, Angel Rodriguez, Kamari Murphy.
Both defeated two teams who would be in the top-three seeds in the NCAA tournament: 3-seed Michigan State and 2-seed Duke, and 1-seed Virginia and 3-seed Utah.