The 31,000 fans at the Carrier Dome apparently weren’t the only ones paying attention as the University of Miami men’s basketball team knocked off Syracuse on Saturday afternoon. Voters in the Associated Press and USA Today polls put the Hurricanes back into the Top 25 on Monday. They are ranked No. 23 in both polls.
UM had broken into the Top 25 on Nov. 24, got as high as No. 15, slipped to No. 18 on Dec. 15 and then dropped out after losing to Eastern Kentucky. But ever since the ACC season started, the Canes have been gaining respect. They had big wins at Duke and at Syracuse, home wins against Boston College and North Carolina State, and their two losses were in double-overtime to undefeated No. 2 Virginia (19-0) and by five points to then-No. 12 (now No. 8) Notre Dame.
The Canes (14-5, 4-2 ACC) face Georgia Tech at home at 9 p.m. Wednesday. Coach Jim Larrañaga said re-entering the Top 25 doesn’t change the team’s approach to the game. He does not want his players wrapped up in rankings. But he recognizes that being a Top 25 team has long-range benefits.
“[It’s significant] as far as getting name recognition out there, having others think we’re good,” he said. “We’re always going to think we’re good. But it’s earning respect from other people that’s always been important. It helps in recruiting to have high school players and coaches think you have a good program, and the way they judge that is, ‘Who’d you beat?’ ”