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Canes Hoops: Is This Team Now Simply Playing for a Spot in the NCAA Tournament?

After three straight losses, the Hurricanes are now at .500 in ACC play. With just four games left in the regular season, Miami may soon be a legitimate bubble team.

NCAA Basketball: Miami at Georgia Tech
Head coach Jim Larranaga reacts to a play during against Georgia Tech earlier in the conference season.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Top #20 preseason. Two preseason ACC award-winning players and two projected lottery picks. Before the season, expectations were high, and excitement was higher.

The Hurricanes now officially sit in the back half of the Atlantic Coast Conference after a 62-55 loss to the Syracuse Orange.

It marks the third consecutive loss, after setbacks at Boston College and at home against Virginia.

Over the past three years, the amount of ACC teams in the NCAA Tournament has been nine, seven, and six. With Miami currently in 8th place, a bid to the dance is officially in an unnerving state.

Some precedent to this: Miami finished 10th last year and made the tournament. Syracuse was 8th and missed it despite the two teams splitting the season series and finishing with an identical 10-8 conference record.

If Miami gets in, it will be because of their 11-1 non-conference record, against a non-league schedule that was one of the weakest in the conference.

So what can this team do to improve their chances of getting a birth? The last four games begin on Monday night in South Bend against Notre Dame 15-11 (5-8), followed by a home rematch with BC 16-10 (6-7), on Saturday. The Canes will finish at UNC 20-7 (9-5), and Virginia Tech 19-8 (8-6), at home.

The only way to guarantee a spot in the dance is to split the last four regular season games and win the opening game in the ACC tournament.

If this hole is dug any deeper, it may be too much to overcome. This season will go down as a major disappointment, and the short and long-term future of the program will be altered.