The Miami Hurricanes climbed back into the Associated Press Top 25 at No. 24 on Monday, just in the nick of time, on the eve of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, when the NCAA Tournament selection committee is paying close attention.
The Canes (22-8 overall, 11-7 ACC) won their fourth game in a row Saturday, edging Virginia Tech by a point to clinch the third seed in the conference tournament. Miami gets a double bye and doesn’t play until the Thursday quarterfinal at 9 p.m. They will play either No. 6 seed North Carolina, No. 11 seed Syracuse or No. 14 seed Wake Forest.
UM’s four recent wins have been by a combined eight points, with each game decided in the final possession.
“They’re like the cardiac kids,” UM coach Jim Larrañaga said. “They somehow are enjoying being on the edge at the end of these games. ... It’s really fun for a coach to watch your team lift its spirits right at a crucial time of the year. And I know we don’t know who we play or when we play yet, but we’re 11-7. We put ourselves in a good position for the ACC tournament and for an NCAA bid.”
After a brutal stretch during which the Hurricanes had a lot of travel and not much time in between games, they have had some breathing room in the past two weeks, and the double bye this week gives them four days to prepare for their ACC tournament opener at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
“From the first of January to the end of February, we were traveling every weekend, every Friday, every Saturday or every Sunday,” Larrañaga said. “We didn’t have a single weekend off. And now, we played on a Monday against Notre Dame and had four days to prepare [for Boston College]. Two of those days we took off so we could rest and recover to play Boston College. And then we played Tuesday [at North Carolina] and then we had a day off so that we could prepare [for Virginia Tech]. So, we’ve been very well rested these last four games, and I think that has shown.”
Sophomore DJ Vasiljevic agreed: “The season has given us little opportunity to rest. When we play on a Saturday, we have to travel somewhere on a Monday. A double bye will be good for us. We can rest our bodies. We need the rest days to refocus.”