Duke, after all, is No. 2 … the same Duke that the Canes crushed 90-63 just three weeks ago. By my math, calling Miami better than Duke seems fairly reasonable.
Indiana, No. 1, has lost to three unranked teams including to Illinois a few days ago. So I might wonder aloud who’s playing better right now: A Canes team unbeaten in the ACC, or a Hoosiers squad that is coming off a loss and ranks 11th to Miami’s second in national RPI — which rates records vs. strength of schedule.
No matter what happens from here with the Canes, second-year coach, Jim Larranaga, 63, has proved his best days didn’t end with that 2006 Cinderella run into the Final Four with George Mason. And Larranaga’s senior-dominated Hurricanes are reminding a one-and-done-infected sport that staying for the entirety of one’s college career can have its benefits, too.
I can explain the run these Canes are on no better than to suggest LeBron’s MVP season for the champion Heat could be the biggest story in basketball this season but might not even be the biggest story in town at the moment.
Together the Heat and Hurricanes challenge the old tradition-bound certainty that this is a Football Town, first and forever. Call it encroachment. The bounce of the basketball gets louder by degrees down here the more football offers less to enthrall us.
For now, let UM fans and the media chew over the possibilities and debate poll rankings, No. 1 seeds, Final Fours or championship chances.
I loved senior Kenny Kadji’s explanation Monday for why his Hurricanes can’t be bothered taking the time to wonder about any of that or worry about what’s ahead.
“We’re having too much fun,” he said.