Entering the final week of the regular season, Miami is widely projected as an eight or nine seed for the NCAA tournament.
ESPN’s bracketologist expert, Joe Lunardi, has the Canes’ projected as a nine seed in the Midwest region facing off vs Arkansas in the Round of 64. CBS bracketologist, Jerry Palmsm, currently projects the Canes as an eight seed in the Midwest facing off versus Oklahoma. The Canes are currently 20-8 on the season and sixth in the ACC standings with a 9-7 record with a road game at Chapel Hill and a home game versus Virginia Tech.
These final two regular season games have serious implications for Miami as they still haven’t quite sealed their March fate nor have a so-called “signature” win on the season. Beating North Carolina on the road would accomplish both of these, as the Tar Heels are currently projected to be a 2-seed in both Lunardi’s and Palm’s brackets.
Regardless of the outcome in Chapel Hill, the Canes will still have a very meaningful game in the regular season finale against Virginia Tech for ACC tournament seeding as well as adding another quality win to the March resume. The Hokies are currently projected as a 10-seed in both bracket projections, but are in Lunardi’s “Last Four Byes,” forever living on the bubble. Miami beat the Hokies on the road in the beginning of the month, 84-75, and a season sweep would more than likely clinch a Selection Sunday bid.
As long as the Canes win one of these final two games, they should be guaranteed to hear their name called on Selection Sunday along the 7-10 seed range, assuming they don’t win the ACC tournament. But let’s analyze what would happen to the March hopes if they won or lost both regular season games:
Hypothetical 1: Canes beat UNC and VT
The Canes would be on Cloud 9 entering the ACC tournament in this scenario, and their bracket projections would certainly be on the rise as well. The Canes would probably be projected as a six or seven seed for the NCAA tournament before the ACC tournament begins. Miami would be seeded anywhere from as high as three to as low as six in the ACC tournament. In this scenario, a win in their first game of the ACC tournament would likely clinch Miami at least a six-seed in the NCAA tournament if not higher depending on the opponent they beat.
Hypothetical 2: Canes lose to UNC and VT
If disaster were to strike, and Miami loses the final two games of the regular season, the bubble watch would be ON. The Canes could enter the ACC tournament as low as the 10 seed, playing a team like Louisville, Florida State, Clemson, or Virginia Tech. All of these teams are either tournament teams or on the bubble, which would potentially eliminate the loser of this game from the field of 68. A win for Miami in the first round of the ACC tournament in this scenario would more than likely land them a 10-seed at worst.
Based on the ACC tournament, there are a million possibilities for this Canes team. The tough part will be continuing to gut out wins in March without Bruce Brown Jr. who is reported to miss the ACC tournament and perhaps the start of the NCAA tournament. The Canes are 5-3 without Brown since his foot injury.