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March could be a big month for Hurricanes athletics

In March, the baseball team faces the Gators, the basketball teams should be in the post-season, and the football team will be in their second spring under Mario Cristobal.

Miami v Kansas Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes Athletic Department should be in the middle of a fun month when March 2023 rolls around in a few weeks. If you can’t tell, I’m excited for spring to get here up in gloomy North Carolina.

Miami had one silver lining in the “big three” sports in 2022- the Men’s Basketball team. For the 21-22 season, the ‘Canes men’s basketball team made it all the way to the Elite 8 before being knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by the Kansas Jayhawks.

For the 22-23 season, the men’s basketball team is sitting at 15-3 overall, 6-2 in the ACC, and faces the Duke Blue Devils today at noon (eastern) on ESPN. Even with Duke having a ‘down’ year, this would be a signature win for the ‘Canes.

Miami v Maryland Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images

By March, the Hurricanes should be on their way to winning the ACC Championship and heading into March Madness as a near lock to return to the Elite 8. Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller have had really strong seasons so far for Miami.

The UM women’s basketball team is having a down season for their normal standard. The ‘Canes are 12-7 and 5-3 in the ACC. it should still be a fun March for Katie Meier’s squad that looks to make a post-season run like the men’s program did in ‘22. Haley Cavinder has been the shot in the arm the ‘Canes needed this season.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 05 Women’s North Carolina at Miami Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Hurricanes baseball team is coached by former outfielder and long-time assistant Gino DiMare. DiMare has pushed the Hurricanes into the post-season in all three seasons that were completed (in 2020 COVID shutdown the season). The Hurricanes are 61-37 in the ACC under DiMare but enter the ‘23 season as a top-10 ranked team in a number of baseball pre-season polls.

COLLEGE BASEBALL: JUN 05 Coral Gables Regional - Miami vs. Ole Miss Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The ‘Canes will be lead by two returning stars in closer Andrew Walters and third baseman Yohandy Morales. Both players are pre-season All-Americans per Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game. In ‘22, Walters posted an ERA of 1.65 with 14 saves. His 14 saves put Walters in the top-10 of UM single season closers which is a list that includes former major leaguers like Danny Graves and Chris Perez.

Miami opens the season at home against Penn State on February 17th, but faces the Florida Gators in Gainesville for the first real test of the season March 3-5.

Like most seasons, the series with the Gators will be the test of how good DiMare’s ‘Canes really are. I plan to be in attendance for the series at UNC in Chapel Hill, NC, and maybe Wake Forest up in Winston-Salem, NC.

Miami v Clemson Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

It’s safe to assume that by March the Hurricanes football program will be in spring practices in March, with the spring game coming in mid-April again. The Hurricanes are in need of a quarterback coach with Frank Ponce returning to Appalachian State to serve once again as the Mountaineers OC.

Obviously any freshmen that can early enrollee for spring is a huge bonus, and Miami has over a dozen of their 2023 class already on campus. The most important position to get on campus early for the mental side of the game is quarterback, but physically it is the offensive line.

Five-star offensive tackle Samson Okunlola is already in the strength and conditioning program and that will be a huge benefit to both him and Coach Mirabal this spring and fall. Miami’s class will finish in the top-7 nationally, even without Cormani McClain, so it’s hard to pinpoint the most important signee, but Okunlola being there early is a huge plus to a weak offensive line unit.

Five-star OT Francis Mauigoa is reporting later than Okunlola because of the Poly Bowl. While I worry less about IMG players because of the school’s state of the art S&C program, it’s still a benefit to have Mauigoa on campus early for spring practices.

Former UCF center Matt Lee transferred in along with Alabama guard Javion Cohen to give Miami a ‘new look’ line this spring. It will be huge to see if the O-Line can push around the D-Line in the spring game and in scrimmage reports in March.

This is a make or break year for Miami offensive line coach Alex Mirabal as he has the return of OT Zion Nelson, plus hand-picked five-stars in Mauigoa and Okunlola, transfers like Cohen and Lee, NFL caliber talent in Jalen Rivers, and depth in Anez Cooper, Jonathan Denis, and Matthew McCoy.