The Miami Hurricanes are headed back to The Big Dance for the first time in three years, courtesy of a 25-7 record and three-seed in the ACC Tourney, where the Canes knocked off Virginia Tech before falling to Virginia.
Miami’s quest for a national championship kicks off Thursday evening in Providence, Rhode Island—where the third-seeded Canes will go toe-to-toe with fourteenth-seeded Buffalo Bulls.
Win, as Miami is most-likely facing the sixth-seeded Arizona Wildcats in the second round, setting up a Sweet 16 showdown against second-seeded Villanova—barring any upsets—should the Canes advance.
Kansas is the top seed in the South, with the Jayhawks facing the No. 8 Colorado / No. 9 Connecticut winner and then whoever comes out of the No. 5 Maryland / No. 12 South Dakota State or No. 4 California / No. 13 Hawai’i portion of the bracket.
Upsets are the name of the game; the reason the phrase “March Madness” even came to be. That said, if the favorites prevail, Miami would face No. 14 Buffalo, No. 6 Arizona, No. 2 Villanova (Sweet 16) and No. 1 Kansas (Elite Eight)—setting up a Final Four match-up against conference rival and top seed in the East, North Carolina.
A reminder what it takes to go deep in the 64-team tournament—though Miami is certainly battle-tested as a member of the ACC. Outside of the Tar Heels earning a one-seed, so did the Virginia Cavaliers—the conference runner-up getting the top slot in the Midwest bracket.
Syracuse is a ten-seed in the Midwest, Duke is a four-seed in the West and both Notre Dame and Pittsburgh join North Carolina in the East, as six- and ten-seed, respectively.
A late-season loss at Virginia Tech cost Miami a share of the ACC regular season crown; with North Carolina earning it outright. Regarding the ACC Tournament, revenge was exacted against the Hokies, but a slow start against the Cavaliers—the Canes down 12-2 early—proved too much to overcome, due to some slow, deliberate and effective Virginia basketball the rest of the way.
Inconsistency hurt the Canes the final month of the regular season, but like so many others—a chance at redemption this week. Everyone is hitting reset and begins their one-and-done journey to find success, survive and advance to the next round.
For the Canes’ sake, it’s all about that initial win over Buffalo on Thursday and a quick turnaround against an Arizona squad that lost three of its past six, but at 25-8 remains a quality program and formidable foe—as well as a NCAA Tournament staple over the years.
March Madness is officially underway, with the Canes and their senior-heavy squad looking to make as deep a run as this program has ever seen.