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Late Surge by Tar Heels too Much for the Canes, Selection Sunday Awaits

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Miami vs North Carolina Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

After building a 14-0 lead to start the game, Miami went toe-to-toe with North Carolina until the final 5 minutes of last night’s ACC Quarterfinal match. With just over 5 minutes left, the Tar Heels took an eight point lead but Ja’Quan Newton’s three-pointer from the top of the key cut it to 66-63 with 4:56 left. Unfortunately, the Hurricanes ran out of gas and could not close the gap. North Carolina went on a late run to clinch it, during which the Canes missed six shots in a row.

Talking to the media after the game head coach Jim Larrañaga said:

“Well, we felt like there were three things we had to do, and we didn’t do two of them. Carolina deserves a lot of credit for that. They are a tremendous team in the open court, and we were not able to get back and set our defense enough times throughout the contest to put ourselves in a position to win the game. We gave up way too many lay-ups, and then second shots, they were all over the offensive boards, especially in the last 10 minutes of the game.

We didn’t turn the ball over that much, which was good, but we didn’t defend them great, either. Congratulations to them. We have a tremendous amount of respect for Roy Williams, his staff and that program, and we played a great game against them in Chapel Hill nine or ten days ago and were hoping to play that well today, but we really showed our inexperience. We were very anxious, in a hurry, and right in the very beginning, even when we had the lead, some of the shots we took and plays and decisions we made were really not characteristic of the way we’ve been playing.”

When asked about how he felt about his team heading into March Madness, Larrañaga said:

“I might look at things a little differently than most certainly fans and coaches, but I think the NCAA Tournament is really about who plays well that day, are they in sync with their teammates, are they really playing at the top of their game. One of the things that you can look up statistically is how many wins a team has away from home because there are a lot of teams in this country that play a lot of home games and do really, really well at home, not so great when they have to travel. And the NCAA Tournament is not played on your home court.

Our team, we’ve got, I think it’s eight wins on the opponents’ home court or something like that.”

Miami is 8-4 on the road and 3-2 at neutral sites, including last night’s loss.

“I think there’s only three teams in the ACC -- no, four teams in the ACC with winning road records, and that’s Virginia, Duke, Carolina and Miami,” Larrañaga continued. “If you look around the country, that’s true in almost all the leagues. There are a lot of good teams who are good at home and not so good away from home so I think we’ve got as good a chance as anybody, even though we’re young and we do lack experience, but this will be our third trip to the NCAA Tournament, and that makes me and my coaching staff feel good about our chances no matter who we match up with.”

Now Miami waits to find out where it will be seeded in the NCAA Tournament. With selection Sunday almost upon us, the Canes had been almost a unanimous 6 seed going into last night’s game. As of this morning not much has changed. CBS Sports bracketologist Jerry Palm and USA Today’s Shelby Mast have the Canes still on the 6 seed line in either the East or South regions. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, bumped Miami down one notch to a 7 seed in the South. The Bracket Matrix (a collection of every Bracketologist’s predictions) also still has Miami on the 6 line.

Per Warren Nolan’s site, here is a current rundown from the various statistical predictive and results-based sites for Miami.

Results based metrics:

RPI: Rating Percentage Index - 26

KPI: Kevin Pauga Index – 25

SOR: ESPN Strength of Record – 19

Predictive Based Metrics:

BPI: ESPN Basketball Power Index - 33

POM: Ken Pomeroy - 35

SAG: Jeff Sagarin – 26

The collective average of all six metrics puts Miami at just over 27. If that is how Miami finishes on “Selection Sunday” that should be enough to keep the Canes on the 6 line.