Two days after watching a jubilant net-cutting ceremony, University of Miami basketball fans were still thrilled with the Hurricanes’ ACC first-place-clinching win over Clemson. The AP voters apparently were not quite as impressed – at least not enough to make them forget UM’s loss to Georgia Tech at the buzzer last Wednesday.
The Canes (24-6, 15-3 ACC) dropped from No. 6 to No. 9 in the AP poll released Monday despite the historic 62-49 victory over the Tigers. They are ranked behind No. 8 Michigan State (24-7), whom Miami beat 67-59 in late-November.
Gonzaga (30-2) remained No. 1, followed by Duke (27-4) – whom Miami beat by 27 and lost to by three, Indiana (26-5), Louisville (26-5), and Georgetown (24-5).
The Hurricanes slipped to No. 10 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.
UM heads to Greensboro later this week for the ACC tournament, which they enter as the No. 1 seed. They earned a first-round bye, so their first game is a quarterfinal at noon Friday against the winner of No. 8 seed Boston College and No. 9 seed Georgia Tech.
The Hurricanes were 2-0 against Boston College this season and 1-1 against Georgia Tech. If UM wins the quarterfinal, it will play the 1 p.m. Saturday semifinal. Virginia, the No. 4 seed, is the other seeded team on Miami’s side of the bracket.
No. 2 Duke and No. 3 North Carolina are on the other side and one is expected to make the Sunday final. UM is 7-8 in the ACC tournament since 2004. The Canes’ best performance was in 2009-10, when they reached the semifinals before losing to Duke. Last year, Miami entered as the No. 6 seed, beat No.11 Georgia Tech and then lost to No. 3 Florida State.
LARKIN ON ACC FIRST TEAM
In other UM news, sophomore point guard Shane Larkin was named first-team All-ACC, and was named to the league’s All-Defensive team along with senior teammate Durand Scott. Kenny Kadji was named to the All-ACC second team.
“The old adage that defense wins championships is very, very true,” UM coach Jim Larranaga said. “In order to have a great defensive team, you need great individual players as well as great team defense. We have two of the best in Durand Scott and Shane Larkin. They’re a great combination because they can guard all different kinds of players.”
Larkin also found out Monday that he is one of five finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation’s leading point guard. Larkin joins Oklahoma State freshman Marcus Smart, St. Mary’s College senior Matthew Dellavedova, Syracuse sophomore Michael Carter-Williams and Michigan sophomore Trey Burke on the final ballot. The winner will be announced during Final Four weekend April 5-7.
“He’s just great at playing the game,” Larranaga said of Larkin. “He misses a few shots, next thing he thinks, ‘Oh, I need to bury a couple of shots.’ He doesn’t shy away from challenges. In fact, the bigger the challenge, the better he plays.”
Larkin leads Miami in scoring (13.7 ppg), assists (131), steals (59) and three-point percentage (.403). He had at least one steal in 26 games this season, including 20 straight games from Nov. 13 through Feb. 5. Larkin also made at least one three-pointer in 26 of his 30 games played this season.
He started 29 of Miami’s 30 games. The only one he started on the bench was Senior Day last Saturday so that the team could honor its five seniors. He scored 18 points in home games against Duke and North Carolina, and scored 20 or more points five times.