Despite this season’s disappointment, Miami still has a chance to come out on top of this year’s edition of ‘Coastal chaos.’
Last season was a wonderful break from the turmoil, as the champion of the division is usually determined by tiebreakers and wacky finishes. Miami has unfortunately regressed though, and finds themselves towards the bottom of the conference standings despite returning many starters, and arguably having a better roster than last season.
Before the season began, we knew that Miami’s schedule wasn’t extremely difficult, but we assumed that there would be solid tests along the way. What we didn’t see coming though, was that Miami would return to mediocrity by losing to inferior teams. Miami has already amassed 3 conference losses, and they still haven’t played their toughest games.
Florida State will always offer the hardest test for the ‘Canes, regardless of their record. However, Miami still has to travel to Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech in consecutive weeks, making it the toughest two-week stretch of the 2018-19 season. Now, due to the losses suffered thus far, Miami must win-out in order to have a shot at reaching the ACC Championship game.
Winning-out is only part of the equation though, as Miami has to receive some help from future and past opponents on their schedule.
Virginia, whom Miami lost to following their victory against Florida State, is 4-2 in conference play, with 2 ACC games left on their schedule. Ironically, the games follow the same pattern as Miami’s, as they travel to Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech in consecutive weeks. In order for Miami to top them, Virginia has to lose both of those contests.
The team that sits atop of the Coastal division is Pittsburgh however, despite holding the same regular season record as the ‘Canes. Although that might give the impression that they’re having an ‘okay’ season, they have a conference record of 4-1. Pittsburgh’s remaining schedule isn’t as difficult as Virginia’s however, as they host Virginia Tech this Saturday, and travel to Wake Forest in the following week. Pittsburgh must lose one of those 2 games in order for the ‘Canes to win the tie-breaker against them, assuming that Miami wins the remainder of their contests.
None of this matters of course if Miami suffers another loss this season, but it shows that there’s still something to play for. Gerald Willis III has stated that he’ll keep working hard despite some pros telling him to sit-out in order to preserve his health. That’s the courage that Miami needs right now, as they’re reeling, and scrambling to find answers.