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This Week in Miami Hurricanes Basketball: NCAA Tournament Preview Edition

Both squads are heading north for their first round matchups.

Wake Forest v Miami Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

It’s NCAA Tournament time for Miami Hurricanes Men’s and Women’s basketball. Good thing, as I can shift my focus from the disappointment of Omier’s injury and the guys’ loss to Duke. Today, I will be previewing both the men’s and women’s matchups as well as taking a quick look at Miami’s potential second round opponents.

Last week, the guys beat Wake Forest in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament on Thursday afternoon, then came up short against Duke in the semifinals on Friday night. The ladies had the week off as they awaited their matchup for the 2023 NCAA Women’s Tournament. Seniors Haley Cavinder and Destiny Harden were both named All-ACC Second Team.

Let’s get to previewing!

#5 Miami vs #12 Drake - Albany, NY, Friday, 3/17, 7:25 PM EST on TBS

Ah, the dreaded 5 vs 12. This seeding and matchup would’ve been much better had Miami been assigned to play in nearby Orlando, FL. My buddy and I already made plans for next weekend to see the Canes play in person. Libations and basketball; it would’ve been fun. I guess I’ll have to spend time with my family this weekend. Just kidding honey!

Drake won their second Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championship this season, their first since 2008. The Bulldogs were ranked throughout that season and earned a #5 seed in that year’s NCAA Tournament. They were upset by #12 seed Western Kentucky. Let’s hope they don’t get their 5 vs 12 revenge against us. Drake recorded their first NCAA Tournament win in 50 years in 2021 with a First Four victory over fellow #11 seed Wichita State.

This year’s version of the Bulldogs are led by MVC Player of the Year Tucker DeVries. The sophomore forward is averaging 19 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Point guard Roman Penn also made First Team All-MVC this season. He is averaging 12.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 5.4 assists on the year. Drake shoots the ball efficiently, making 47% of their field goals and 37.3% of three-pointers. One point in Miami’s favor: Drake’s lack of rebounding. The Bulldogs average 33.5 per game as a team (1.5 more than the Canes). Their tallest player is starting center, senior Darnell Brodie, at 6’10”. He averages 7.3 rebounds per game. Let’s hope Anthony Walker, AJ Casey, and Jordan Miller can handle Brodie should Omier be unavailable.

Key matchup: Rim protection. Rebounding too, but I mentioned that above. Omier is/was Miami’s only true rim protector. Casey and Walker are both taller than Omier, but neither are the defensive threat that he is. Big Norchad is blocking 1.3 shots per game, good for fifth in the ACC. I know that is not a huge number, but he is constantly challenging shots at the rim. Omier makes life much more difficult for the opposing team’s offense. Let’s be honest, the Canes’ defense hasn’t looked good the past month or so. It could look much worse without Norchad Omier protecting the basket and limiting second chance opportunities with his defensive rebounding.

My prediction: Miami is able to outscore Drake without Omier. The Canes win by single-digits and advance to face the Hoosiers in the second round.

Other teams in the region: #4 Indiana, #13 Kent State

#4 Indiana - This season has been quite a ride for the Hoosiers: they beat #18 UNC in November, back when everyone still thought UNC was good, they lost back-to-back games against #10 Arizona and #8 Kansas, lost three in a row to Iowa, Northwestern, and Penn State, lost to Iowa again in February, then fell to Penn State for a second time in the semifinals of the BIG TEN Tournament. However, mixed in with those losses were wins over Rutgers, Wisconsin, two against Illinois, and two against Purdue, both when the Boilermakers were ranked inside the top five of the AP Poll.

Indiana is led by Sporting News First Team All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis. The senior forward does it all for the Hoosiers. He is averaging 20.8 points, 10.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.7 blocks per game this season, all team-highs. Indiana has some serious young talent as well in guard Jalen Hood-Schifino. The BIG TEN Freshman of the Year is averaging 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game.

The Indiana Hoosiers have been bipolar this season. When they are on, they can beat any team in the country. When they are off, they can lose to middling teams in their conference. It’ll be interesting to see which version shows up for their first round game against the team below.

#13 Kent State - The Golden Flashes are known for their defense this season. They hold opponents to 31% shooting on three-pointers and 40.3% on field goals overall, good for 19th in the country. Kent State is led by redshirt senior point guard Sincere Carry. He leads the team in points and assists, averaging 17.6 and 4.9, respectively.

#9 Miami vs #8 Oklahoma State - Bloomington, IN, Saturday, 3/18, 2:00 PM EST on ESPN

Similar to the Lady Canes, Oklahoma State had an up-and-down 2022-23 season. The Cowgirls topped Florida State back in November, beat Baylor twice, and had a six-game winning streak to start the month of February. However, they ended the regular season on a three-game skid.

Oklahoma State does two things very well: score points and take care of the ball. The Cowgirls average 79.9 point per game, ranking them 26th in the country. They only average 11.3 turnovers per game, ranking fifth in the country. Meanwhile, their assist to turnover ratio of 1.5 ranks fourth. Oklahoma State is led by First Team All-BIG 12 guard Naomie Alnatas. The senior is averaging 13.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game.

Key matchup: Cavinder vs Alnatas. Both point guards lead their team in scoring. They are also their team’s floor general, dictating the game plan on the offensive end. While each team has solid supporting squads, I believe whoever wins this matchup, will win the game.

My prediction: Miami wins late, icing the game at the free-throw line. The Lady Canes then open as huge underdogs against the Lady Hoosiers, who have the enormous advantage of playing at home.

Other teams in the region: #1 Indiana, #16 Tennessee Tech, #16 Monmouth

#1 Indiana - This season has been a special one for the Lady Hoosiers. They won the 2022-23 BIG TEN Regular Season Championship, were ranked as high as #2 in the country for multiple weeks, and were awarded the second overall seed in the NCAA Women’s Tournament. Indiana is led by senior forward and BIG TEN Defensive Player of the Year Mackenzie Holmes. She is averaging 22.3 points and 7.3 rebounds on 68.8% field goal shooting, all team-highs. Holmes was also named First Team All-BIG TEN, along with senior guard Grace Berger. They also have a BIG TEN All-Freshman Team player in guard Yarden Garzon. The Hoosiers are coached by this year’s BIG TEN Coach of the Year Teri Moren. In short, Indiana is loaded this season. They are one of the favorites to win this year’s NCAA Women’s Tournament Championship.

#16 Monmouth - The Lady Hawks went into the 2023 CAA Women’s Tournament with a 14-15 record. They got hot at the right time, beating the #1, #2, and #3 seeds on their way to an conference tournament title. Monmouth is led by senior guard Bri Tinsley, averaging a team-high 11.9 points and 3.7 assists this season.

#16 Tennessee Tech - This year’s Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Champions are led by senior guard Maaliya Owens, scoring 14.7 points per game. I don’t want to sound negative, but I don’t think either of these teams stand much of a chance against Indiana.

Where will you be watching Miami’s NCAA Tournament games this weekend? Let us know in the comments below.