Our Canes Hoops squad officially begins their 2018-19 campaign tonight against Lehigh, so we gathered our basketball writers to give their predictions for the latest crop of Canes.
For reference, you all expressed your expectations for the upcoming season back in August. Refresh your memories here: Canes Hoops: Way-Too-Early Expectations
What is your win/loss prediction for the Canes this season?
Evan Hadrick: I can see this team really meshing later in the season, resulting in 20-22 wins. The conference will be extremely competitive, but I have confidence in Coach Larranaga and his staff to get the most out of this roster.
Charlie Strauzer: I believe 19-21 regular season wins are achievable this year. Miami has a relatively light non-conference schedule and should finish at or above .500 in ACC play.
Michael Franca: I expect the canes to be somewhere around 18-10 in the regular season, give or take a win or two. Should be a decent season, but not quite as good as we’ve become accustomed to recently.
Jared Peterman: I believe the Canes will once again reach the 20 win mark, largely in part to the weak out of conference schedule. I have the Canes posting a 20-11 regular season record, going 9-9 in ACC play. The hardest task in the out of conference schedule is the Wooden Legacy tournament where I predict the Canes to go 3-1.
How far do you think the Canes will advance in the ACC Tournament?
Evan Hadrick: Last year, despite finishing 3rd in the ACC, the Canes got matched up with UNC and failed to win a game in the conference tournament. Unfortunately, I could see something similar happening this year, as we play in the toughest conference in basketball.
Charlie Strauzer: I expect Miami to get a first round bye. From there I think they can win at least one game in the tournament but beyond that will depend largely on how much momentum the team has entering the event.
Michael Franca: It will ultimately depend on who they come up against (anybody but Duke, please), but it’s hard to see them advancing past the second or third round. There is some elite talent in the ACC this year and the Canes, while still talented, probably won’t have enough to compete.
Jared Peterman: I expect the Canes to be in the middle of the pack in the ACC this season, meaning their first game in the conference tournament could be on Tuesday or Wednesday. If the Canes are the 10th seed or lower, they’ll play on Tuesday and win two games. If they’re a 9 seed or higher, I have them winning one game before losing in the Quarterfinals.
Do you think the Canes will make the NCAA Tournament, and if so, how far will they advance?
Evan Hadrick: The Canes are due for some tournament success. After two straight first round exits, I think Miami makes the tournament as a lower seed (9-12) and is on the other side of an upset. A sweet-16 run could be in the cards.
Charlie Strauzer: I tend to agree with the prognosticators that the Canes are likely a bubble team but ultimately makes it in as an 8-10 seed. Given this is a more mature team with veterans at every starting position, I can see Miami winning 1-2 games in the big dance.
Michael Franca: I think last year’s version of Syracuse is a decent comparison, not necessarily in style or personnel, but possible success. The Canes could be one of the last few teams to make the tournament with a somewhat favorable draw as far as seeding for underdogs goes. Still, I think two tournament wins is probably the ceiling for this group.
Jared Peterman: I think the Canes will sneak into the tournament as an 8-11 seed. There’s too many unknowns with the Canes right now to expect them to make a run in the tourney this season. I don’t expect this team to go further than the first weekend.
Who will be the leading scorer for the Canes this season?
Evan Hadrick: I like what I’ve seen from Zach Johnson. Chris Lykes will take a step forward this season, but Zach Johnson will provide that consistent scoring punch that Miami lacked last season (despite the NBA-level talent on the roster)
Charlie Strauzer: This is going to be close as Chris Lykes, Dewan Hernandez and Zach Johnson all could take this. At the end of the season however I believe Hernandez will lead the way.
Michael Franca: Chris Lykes and Dewan Hernandez are probably the favorites, but I think Lykes is the more likely of the two. With Bruce Brown, Lonnie Walker, and Ja’Quan Newton gone there should be plenty of perimeter touches available for him to gobble up. He’s shown the explosiveness and willingness to shoot required to be the team’s leading scorer.
Jared Peterman: The leading scorer for the Canes will be one of three players: Chris Lykes, Dewan Hernandez, or Zach Johnson. I believe Lykes will lead the team in scoring, averaging between 14-17 points per game. I expect Hernandez and Johnson to also average double figures.
Who will be the most improved player for the Canes this season?
Evan Hadrick: Anthony Lawrence II will take the next step and be the Draymond Green do-it-all glue guy for the Canes. He has all the tools, but he will have to assert himself on a nightly basis to guide this team to success.
Charlie Strauzer: Another tossup for me between Dewan Hernandez and Ebuka Izundu. Both are looking to impress pro scouts this year but in the little I’ve seen pre-season I’m going to go with Hernandez again on this one.
Michael Franca: I don’t think it would be a stretch to say Dewan Hernandez even though he was already one of the team’s better players. From year one to year two he showed significant growth in just about every aspect and looked more comfortable and aware. He has the athleticism and skillset to take another significant step.
Jared Peterman: I believe Ebuka Izundu will play a larger role this season, resulting in better production as long as he stays out of foul trouble. Izundu flashed at times last year and entering his senior season I expect him to take a leap and be a consistent role player for the Canes.
Who will be the top newcomer for the Canes this season?
Evan Hadrick: Zach Johnson is the likely choice, but I’m looking for Deng Gak to become an impact player off the bench this season. The redshirt freshman has the athleticism and unique skillset to be a nightmare for opposing big men.
Charlie Strauzer: This is easy, Zach Johnson, a Miami Norland High graduate who transferred as a fifth year senior from FGCU should shine this year. He tested the NBA waters in the off season and chose to stay in college for his final year. The Canes are fortunate to have this talented guard on the squad.
Michael Franca: It should pretty comfortably be Zach Johnson. He’s already shown he can be one of the leading men on a relevant team in his years at Florida Gulf Coast. It should transfer over seamlessly thanks to his experience.
Jared Peterman: This one seems like a no-brainer. Zach Johnson, the graduate transfer from Florida Gulf Coast, is the most experienced and talented wing on the team and will provide consistent shooting beyond the arc.