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Canes Hoops: Rank Us and Respect Us

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The ‘Canes have won 4 out of 5 since falling out of the AP rankings; now put us back in

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

No Bruce Brown Jr, no problem. After losing their star for 6 weeks on Monday, the ‘Canes promptly came out and swept the floor with Pittsburgh before traveling to Virginia Tech to win a game in which they led for the final 37:07. The ‘Canes led by as many as 16 against the Hokies, and though the Hokies cut it to 3 with just under 4 left, the ‘Canes had no trouble finding shots that ultimately put the birds away. This moved the ‘Canes record to 17-5 (6-4) and will only help the 20th best RPI which the ‘Canes currently boast. So please, poll voters, open your eyes. It is time to rank us again.

If you watched the live telecast, then you surely heard Joe Lunardi’s pitch about “Quadrant” wins. This is a system the selection committee uses in order to rank the quality of a win come Selection Sunday. A win in Quadrant 1 is classified as a home win over an RPI 1-30 team or an away win against an RPI 1-75 team. This win over VT is a tally mark in Quadrant 1 and marks the ‘Canes fourth such victory on the season (the home victory over Florida State goes in Quadrant 2).

Admittedly, 4 Quadrant 1 wins is a good number not a great number, but it certainly helps with the whole “who did you beat” question. It’s right there for the committee to see plain as day. And these wins would surely offset any bad losses the ‘Canes acquired. Speaking of which, how many bad losses do the ‘Canes have this season? Oh, that’s right only 1. An absolute stinker in Atlanta against RPI 131 Georgia Tech. Wait... but what about New Mexico State? Well I’m glad you asked.

Obviously, losing to a team from a non power conference is never ideal, but let’s take a look at the resume of the Aggies from the WAC. Overall the Aggies are 19-3 including 6-0 in conference, with 2 of their 3 losses coming to RPI top 50 opponents. Those opponents: The USC Trojans and the Saint Mary’s Gaels, who are currently having arguably the best season in program history and sit atop the WCC (yes, they are ahead of and have beaten Gonzaga... in Spokane). The only questionable loss for the Aggies was a 5 point stunner at home against San Diego. But to call a loss to New Mexico State on a neutral court in Maui a bad loss, seems completely unfair. And did I mention the Aggies RPI? It’s 48.

The other three losses for the ‘Canes have come at home against Duke, in a game that the ‘Canes led big late in the second half, and in close road contests against Clemson and Florida State. The respective RPIs for each of those teams? Duke 3, Clemson 4, and Florida State 43. Joe Lunardi currently has Miami as a 6 seed in his latest Bracketology projection, which is much more important than an AP ranking. But this isn’t about what’s important. This is about respect.

Last week the ‘Canes won a thrilling road contest at NC State (a team that later that week beat North Carolina), then followed that up with an even more thrilling overtime victory against Louisville. Then came a revenge game for Florida State in Tallahassee. The ‘Canes took their rivals into overtime before falling in a heartbreaker. With a quality road win, a quality home win, and a “good” loss against your rival (no that does not feel good to say), all in one week it seemed the ‘Canes would surely sneak into the top 25. Instead they actually received LESS votes then they had the week before.

UNBELIEVABLE.

But surely after this week, the ‘Canes have to find themselves back in the polls. They just won 2 games without their best player, including a road one over a bubble team. What else do the ‘Canes have to do?

Let’s quickly take a look at some of the teams that were ranked over Miami in the last poll.

FLORIDA GATORS - 15-7 with 5 Quadrant 1 victories. Losses to Duke, Florida State, and Clemson (wow that sounds familiar). An RPI of 38. A home loss to Loyola-Chicago...

MICHIGAN WOLVERINES - 17-6 with 2 Quadrant 1 victories. A 20 point loss to a Nebraska team who’s next best win is against Boston College. An overtime nailbiter at home against a depleted Minnesota Golden Gophers team that Miami handled when they were near full strength on the road...

KENTUCKY WILDCATS - 17-5 with 3 Quadrant 1 victories. Their best win is a good one at West Virginia, but they also just lost by 9 to Missouri...

RHODE ISLAND RAMS - 19-3 with 1 Quadrant 1 victory. Everyone loves an underdog, and Rhode Island does own a 14 game winning streak. But with close calls against the likes of Massachusetts and Duquesne, it’s hard not to question the Rams a bit.

Miami has more Quadrant 1 victories than almost all of these teams and 4 of their 5 losses have come against teams that are in the “should be in” or “lock” categories for the big dance. So why is it that the ‘Canes seem like they have to do so much more in order to find themselves with a number next to their name?

We’re into February, and March is on the horizon. If the ‘Canes can navigate this stretch without Bruce Brown and win the games they’re supposed to they’ll find themselves a favorite in the opening weekend of the Madness. How much weight does the AP poll really mean? Pretty much nothing, but it would still be nice to know that the rest of the country notices.

It’s time. Rank us and respect us.

GO CANES