The Virginia fans were still celebrating outside the Verizon Center as the clock struck midnight Friday, and the dejected University of Miami coaches and players were packing up their bags, answering questions about their 73-68 loss to the Cavaliers in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals.
They were asked about their 16 costly turnovers, about shrinking the Cavaliers’ lead from 13 to three in the closing seconds, and about the team’s mood as the Hurricanes look ahead to Selection Sunday.
UM coach Jim Larrañaga reminded the team in his postgame speech that last year Duke lost in the ACC tournament semifinals and went on to win the national championship.
“Nobody’s down on themselves because we have bigger things to worry about on Sunday,” UM forward Kamari Murphy said. “We’ll see where we’re going to play and who we play. Like Coach told us, Duke was in this exact situation last year and went on to win the title, so a tournament is a new season for us. We have to take one game at a time and hope to keep winning and compete for a national championship.”
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The 11th-ranked Canes will find out during the 5:30 p.m. Selection Show on CBS what the team is seeded for the upcoming NCAA Tournament and where it will play its first-round game.
Fans are invited to a watch party with the team at the Rathskeller in the Shalala Student Center on campus. The party begins at 4:30 p.m. Wings, chicken strips and sliders will be on sale for $10.
The UM women’s team will also host an NCAA Tournament Selection Show party at 6 p.m. Monday.
Bracketologists at ESPN and CBS Sports project the UM men (25-7) will be a No. 3 seed and will play either in Brooklyn, Providence or Raleigh. They would be paired against a No. 14 seed, perhaps UNC-Wilmington or Iona.
UNC-Wilmington won the Colonial Athletic Association title, and its 25-7 record ties a school record. It has been a decade since the Seahawks played in the NCAA Tournament. Coach Kevin Keatts, a longtime high school coach and former assistant to Rick Pitino at Louisville, has the team believing. Chris Flemmings, a Division II transfer and walk-on, could be a handful.
Iona (22-10) reached the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship game, where it beat Monmouth, the team whose bench theatrics became a YouTube sensation.
“We have to put this loss [to Virginia] behind us, whether we want to or not,” UM guard Davon Reed said. “It was a tough loss, something we really do not enjoy, but like Coach said Duke did it last year. We have to start focusing forward and be ready to play our best in every game from now on.”
Larrañaga expressed concern over the Hurricanes becoming foul-prone during the ACC tournament. They gave up 31 free throws against Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals and 25 against Virginia in the semifinals.
“We’re top 20 in the country in not fouling; we don’t put people on the foul line, but [Thursday] and [Friday] I don’t know … maybe it will be called this way in the NCAA Tournament, too,” Larrañaga said. “We’ll have to put in a new defense to figure out how to guard people like we’ve been for 30 games.”
He also wants the Hurricanes to take better care of the ball than they did against Virginia. The 16 turnovers resulted in 19 Cavalier points, some of them in critical moments.
“I told the players the John Wooden expression: ‘Be quick but don’t hurry.’ Don’t hurry a pass to a guy that you think is open because the pass is not as accurate,” Larrañaga said. “I believe we threw some passes that were about 100 miles an hour. It’s hard to catch those. We could have executed better. If we did, it could have been a different result.”