The Miami Hurricanes will play in their first Final Four game in program history this Saturday. They will be matching up against the Connecticut Huskies at NRG Stadium in Houston. The Huskies have a much more prestigious pedigree and are favored heading into the game, but the ACC Regular Season Co-Champions are coming in with plenty of momentum after wins against a 4 seed, 1 seed, and 2 seed. Miami looks to continue their scorching play, and here are four reasons why Miami will move past UConn and eventually win the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
*Stats via ESPN
Close Game Prowess
If anything can be expected in this wild March Madness, it is that the Final Four will most likely consist of close games. Miami has shown throughout the season, and the tournament, they can win such games and adapt to whatever style that will bring them one in the win column.
To start this year’s tournament, they were neck and neck with the 12 seed Drake Bulldogs until late, even being down at halftime. Their resilience allowed them to outscore the Bulldogs by 12 points in the second en route to a 63-56 win.
Just last round, Miami came out sluggish against the 2 seed Texas Longhorns and found themselves down 13 points in the second half. Once again, they turned on the jets to the tune of a 51 point second half and an 88-81 victory over the Longhorns.
In general, the Hurricanes are 8-4 in games this year decided by six points or less. If the Hurricanes find themselves in another close game down the stretch against the Huskies, Miami fans will have no choice but to feel confident.
Jim Larrañaga is a living legend that has spent the last 11 seasons as the Miami Hurricanes head coach. However, Miami is just the latest school who have reaped the benefits of having Larrañaga at the helm.
Over his career, Larrañaga has become the only coach with over 100 conference wins at three D1 schools. Additionally, he is one of three NCAA coaches with 150 total wins at three D1 schools. This is the type of winning experience that matters in March.
Larrañaga has proven his experience to be vital with his second-half adjustments in the tournament. Not only were the Hurricanes down to Drake and Texas at halftime, but they dominated 1 seed Houston in the second half on their way to a double digit 89-75 victory against the Cougars.
This program is starting to take an identity shaped after their head coach, willing to grind out games until they are the last man standing. It is proven with the Hurricanes being the only team to make the Elite Eight in 2022 and 2023.
Miami will have their work cut out for them this Saturday, there is no doubt. However, with Jim Larrañaga at the helm, the Hurricanes have a mighty good shot.
For the entire season, Miami has averaged 79.6 points per game which places them in the top 25 in scoring. However, over the last three games, the Hurricanes have scored at least 85 points in each contest. UConn has yet to see a team break 70 points in the NCAA Tournament.
UConn plays a highly efficient style of basketball that could allow Miami to quicken the pace of this one. This will only help the Hurricanes maintain their current hot streak of scoring fast and often.
Not only is Miami one of the top offenses in the nation, they can get their buckets from anywhere. In the last three NCAA Tournament games alone, they have had three separate players go for over 26 points.
The fact that so many players can contribute to this dynamic offense is a primary reason they will win the NCAA Tournament. That depth will be on full display this Saturday.
The depth of this Hurricanes squad is what has defined them all season long. They have four players that average in the double-figures, and scoring has only increased in the NCAA Tournament.
Isaiah Wong, Nijel Pack, and Jordan Miller are the three players that separately went for at least 26 in one of their last three games, with Wong and Miller going for 27. However, this depth does not just apply to scoring.
Down low, big man Norchad Omier was a force during the regular season averaging 10.1 rebounds per game, and again these numbers have continued into March. He has 53 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament while continuing his efficient 58% shooting from the field.
This depth allowed them to stay fresh and consistently rush opponents all season-long, especially teams unfamiliar with the Hurricanes. Out of conference, Miami went 14-2 this season, so a matchup with a UConn team they have not seen this year could invigorate that same spirit.
In general, Miami has all the intangibles to come out on top against UConn this Saturday. They will do so, and then move forward towards their first ever NCAA Championship.
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