With only four regular season games to play, the No. 15 ranked men’s basketball team is in the home stretch of what to-date has been a successful season. ESPN bracketology, CBS bracketology, and NCAA’s Andy Katz’s bracketology all currently slot Miami as a 5 seed.
We’ve compiled a look at the five key statistics that could foretell Miami’s postseason success. Maintaining or improving these numbers in the Hurricanes’ limited remaining contests would not only improve their resume but could provide a promising indicator of a deep postseason run.
16 - Number of Teams With a Winning Record in Quad 1 Games
Miami is one of just 16 teams this season currently with a winning record in “Quad 1” games, with a minimum of 5 games played (19 teams if you include Saint Mary’s and Fla. Atlantic who are 2-1 in addition to Drake who is 1-0).
- Kansas (12-5), NET Ranking No. 7, AP Poll No. 5
- Purdue (9-3), NET Ranking No. 4, AP Poll No. 3
- Texas (9-6), NET Ranking No. 9, AP Poll No. 6
- Baylor (9-6), NET Ranking No. 10, AP Poll No. 9
- Alabama (7-3), NET Ranking No. 2, AP Poll No. 1
- Iowa (7-6), NET Ranking No. 39, AP Poll RV
- Arizona (6-2), NET Ranking No. 11, AP Poll No. 8
- Northwestern (6-4), NET Ranking No. 43, AP Poll RV
- Tennessee (5-2), NET Ranking No. 3, AP Poll No. 10
- Pittsburgh (5-2), NET Ranking No. 49, AP Poll RV
- Miami (5-4), NET Ranking No. 30, AP Poll No. 15
- Xavier (5-4), NET Ranking No. 25, AP Poll No. 16
- Houston (4-1), NET Ranking No. 1, AP Poll No. 2
- New Mexico (3-2), NET Ranking No. 55, AP Poll Unranked
- Arizona St. (3-2), NET Ranking No. 68, AP Poll Unranked
- Temple (3-2), NET Ranking No. 116, AP Poll Unranked
For those unfamiliar with the NET rankings, several years ago they supplanted the RPI rankings as arguably the most important rankings considered by the selection committee. Every game is divided into one of four “Quads” with Quad 1 being the toughest games that include home games against teams ranked 1-30, neutral games against teams ranked 1-50, and away games against teams ranked 1-75. Notably, Miami would be 6-4 in Quad 1 games if Clemson (No. 78), who Miami recently beat on the road, hadn’t dropped out of the top 75.
Having a winning record in your Quad 1 games is an excellent indicator that a team can make a deep run in the tournament, which is virtually all Quad 1 games at least after the first round. Three out of four of last year’s Final Four teams ended the season with winning Quad 1 records: Kansas (11-5); Villanova (7-6); and Duke (6-2). Late blossoming North Carolina (3-8) was the lone exception. For curious Canes fans, last year’s historic Elite 8 team also had a winning record (4-3). The equally surprising No. 11 seed Iowa State Cyclones, who Miami beat in the Sweet Sixteen, likewise had a winning Quad 1 record (9-8).
Also, consider this: last year there were twenty teams in the NCAA tournament who had winning Quad 1 records, and only three of those teams (No. 6 seed Colorado St., No. 8 seed Boise St., and No. 10 seed Loyola Chicago) lost in the first round. First round winners included upset victories by No. 9 seed Creighton (7-6), No. 9 seed Memphis (5-4), and No. 12 seed New Mexico St. (2-0) in addition to the aforementioned No. 10 seed Hurricanes and No. 11 seed Cyclones.
Is this a perfect indicator of tournament success? Of course not. Last year’s Houston team was only 1-4 in Quad 1 games and yet they made the Elite Eight as a 5 seed. Also, Cinderella No. 15 seed St. Peter’s made the Elite Eight and was 0-3 in Quad 1 games (and 0-1 in Quad 2 games). And of course the previously mentioned Tarheels made the finals with a 3-8 Quad 1 record.
Of Miami’s four remaining contests, only Miami’s final away game at Virginia Tech (No. 58) will be a Quad 1 game. The remaining home games will probably be Quad 2 (Pittsburgh, No. 49; Wake Forest, No. 75) and Quad 4 (Florida St., No. 211) matchups. Additionally, any conference tournament games against Virginia (No. 13), Duke (No. 32), NC State (No. 38), North Carolina (No. 45), Pittsburgh (No. 49), and possibly Virginia Tech (No. 58) may be Quad 1 games if those teams finish the season in the top 50 of NET rankings. This means Miami would probably finish their season with a winning Quad 1 record if they can either beat Virginia Tech or win at least one game in the ACC tournament, especially if Clemson can slightly improve their resume so that away victory is added back to the Quad 1 record.
1 - Number of Miami Losses in Quad 3 and 4 Games
Staying on the NET rankings, of Miami’s five losses only the away Georgia Tech loss is outside Quad 1. This Quad 3 loss is a glaring stain on Miami’s resume and is probably keeping the Hurricanes off at least the four seed line in the Bracketology predictions (not to mention a Top 10 poll ranking).
Should Miami pick up a second Quad 3/4 loss, the Canes would join uncomfortable territory in terms of historic tournament success. Last year, there wasn’t a single at-large team with multiple Quad 3 or Quad 4 losses that made the Sweet Sixteen, and only one made it out of the first round - No. 6 seed Alabama, No. 7 seed USC, No. 9 seed Memphis, and No. 11 seed Virginia Tech all had two Quad 3 losses and all exited in the first round, while No. 3 seed Wisconsin also had two Quad 3 losses and was upset in the second round. Additionally, No. 12 seed Wyoming (two Quad 3 losses) and No. 11 seed Rutgers (two Quad 3 losses and a Quad 4 loss) lost their play-in games. In fact, Elite Eight crashing St. Peters was the only team with multiple Quad 3 or 4 losses to make the second weekend of the tournament.
Miami really needs to win its home games against Florida State and Wake Forest to avoid being lumped into this category of historical disappointments. The Seminoles have an awful 8-18 record this year and would be Miami’s first Quad 4 loss. Miami already beat FSU on the road 86-63 last month, but a home upset to our rival would probably cost the Hurricanes at least one if not two seed numbers in the tournament. As for Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons are ranked No. 75 in the NET Rankings, which is right on the cutoff line between a Quad 2 and Quad 3 game.
77.68% - Miami’s Team Free Throw Percentage this Season
Did you know that Miami is ranked 10th in the nation in team free throw percentage? Well now you do! In fact, the Hurricanes currently have the highest free throw percentage of any likely tournament-bound team (Clemson and Nevada are higher, respectively at 80.62% and 79.86%, but they’re squarely on the bubble).
I distinctly recall the Miami v. UNC announcers on Monday praising Miami’s free throw shooting as the Tarheels were trying to mount their comeback. Norchad Omier is the weak link, but even Baby Food is making 70.5% of his free throws. Wong, Miller, Pack, Poplar, and Beverly are all averaging better than 80%.
Miami’s motion-heavy, guard dominated, finesse offense doesn’t get to the line all that often - 18.3 attempts per game, good for 152nd in the nation - but if like the UNC game Miami finds itself protecting a late-game lead, expect the Canes to knock down those free throws as teams start intentionally fouling.
9 - Number of Miami Players Who Have Appeared in Almost Every Game
The “almost” part of this stat is to include Nijel Pack, who missed one game, and AJ Casey who played in all but three games.
The point is that for the first time in many years the Hurricanes are HEALTHY and have DEPTH. It seemed like just yesterday that Coach L was working with just 6 available scholarship players. Those depth problems are well behind this program. Coach L has an established rotation that goes nine players deep: starters Wong, Miller, Omier, and Pack all average between 29 and 34 minutes per game; guards Poplar and Joseph average about 22 minutes per game; while Beverly, Casey, and Walker are reserves averaging between 6 to 12 minutes per game.
Should the basketball gods hit Miami with an injury, or if one or more players is in foul trouble, or if Miami is in a particularly exhausting up-tempo battle, Coach L trusts players deep into his bench to weather the storm.
+1600 - Odds of Miami to Make its First Final Four
Draft Kings gives Miami the 27th best odds to make the Final Four (+6500 to win their first national championship). Although this is undervaluing their poll rankings, these odds are about in line with the team’s statistical rankings - Miami’s NET Ranking is 30; its ESPN BPI Ranking is 31; and its Kenpom Ranking is 32.
To keep these odds and a roughly No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament, Miami probably needs to at least split the Pittsburgh and Va. Tech games and avoid FSU and Wake Forest upsets, even if the Canes are one and done in the ACC Tournament. But, should Miami finish the season 4-0 and/or have a deep run in the ACC Tournament, Miami could easily rise to a four or even three seed, and these odds could jump to the +1000 to +1200 territory. This is perfectly doable considering that the Hurricanes should be favored against every remaining opponent aside from a possible matchup against Virginia in the ACC tournament.
Be excited Canes fans. Last year’s Elite Eight run seemingly came out of nowhere, but thus far the numbers suggest that this team is one of Miami’s most promising to shatter the program’s Final Four ceiling. Just need to stay healthy and finish strong.
*stats, numbers, and rankings are as of 2/14 games.