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Miami Basketball Faces Another Huge Week Ahead

If the Hurricanes can somehow go 2-0 this week, and avoid any meltdowns, they may be able to punch their tickets to March Madness.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

So what's the reward for a win over beating Duke on the road, and giving Notre Dame all they can handle one game later in their home arena?

More challenges.

The 'Canes standing in the all important RPI sits at a precarious 52.

Miami (FL) Hurricanes
AP RANK -- CONF. W-L 2-2 LAST 12 7-5
RPI 52 NON-CONF. W-L 10-3 vs. RPI TOP 25 1-2
vs. D-1 12-5 NON-CONF. SOS 199 vs. RPI TOP 50 1-3
vs. NON-D-1 0-0 NON-CONF. RPI 6 vs. RPI TOP 100 3-4
SOS 60 SCORING MARGIN 8.10 vs. RPI TOP 150 7-5
ROAD W-L 3-1


However with NC State Thursday 8PM,1/22 at the BUC (36), and Syracuse Saturday 4PM 1/25 at the Carrier Dome (51), on tap, UM stands a chance to gain some serious ground.

If they win both games, they would also be sitting pretty at 4-2 in the ACC with some very winnable games on the schedule down the stretch.

So in a nutshell, just like last week was, this is a very important week for Hurricanes Hoops.

The Wolfpack are an interesting squad in their own right.  Like Miami, they have a win over Duke as their most impressive notch.   With this being the only match-up of the two, this head to head battle could hypothetically decide things on Selection Sunday if both teams are square on the bubble.

You never know.

NC State is led by Alabama transfer Trevor Lacey (17.1ppg, 4.6rpg, 3.3apg) and Ralston Turner (13.7ppg), a pair of talented wing scorers who can light it up when they get hot.

Davon Reed and Sheldon McClellan will need to be at their very bests defensively.

PF Cat Barber also presents a challenge with his quickness and ball handling.   Angel Rodriguez will need to concentrate on keeping Barber in front of him.

Look for Rodriguez to get plenty of help from freshman JaQuan Newton, who has really elevated his play of late.

Newton looked like a star in the making against Notre Dame, with 16 huge points on 6-9 shooting, and also had a team best 5 assists.  The former H.S. star from Philly, looks like he can get in the lane at will, and score with a variety of pull ups, fades, an acrobatic finishes.

The one thing Newton does not do well (at least not yet) is shoot from deep.

Against the vaunted 2-3 zone of Syracuse this weekend, the 'Canes are going to need to shoot the ball well from 3.

Rodriguez has been hit or miss all season shooting trifectas.   To beat the Cuse, UM needs for Manu Lecomte (team best 44% 3P) and either Ivan Cruz Uceda or Omar Sherman to come in and make a few threes as stretch fours, considering their length to shoot over the zone.

Defensively, Miami will need Tonye Jekiri to continue to stay out of foul trouble and also remain tough on the glass (ACC best 9.88 boards a game in conference).

Jekiri will face one of the biggest surprises not only in the conference, but in the Nation in Orange C, Rakeem Christmas who has been spectacular this year (18.3ppg, 9.0rpg, 2.2blks 60% from the floor).

Like the 'Canes with Rodriguez, Syracuse lives and dies on the shooting of Trevor Cooney.

The 6'4 junior can shoot them right out of a game (0-7 in the is weekend's loss to Clemson) or right into one (7-11 from deep vs FSU one week earlier).

Irregardless of his streaky nature, UM needs to contest each and every shot he takes, especially in the Dome.

The Cuse sit at 13-5 (4-1 in conference), but coming off a bad loss to the Tigers, also can not afford to lose too much ground.

It should be a very interesting week for Hurricanes Hoops.

In other news ACC Digital looks at an underrated Cuse star, Miami's huge week again, and ranks the conference 1-15:

Also the plays of the week.  #3 Should look familar:

Stay tuned for more updates on UM's run at an NCAA Tournament.