University of Miami

With ACC on the line, Miami Hurricanes face Notre Dame

Coach Jim Larrañaga and the University of Miami must defeat Notre Dame on Wednesday to keep their dreams of a regular-season ACC title alive.
Coach Jim Larrañaga and the University of Miami must defeat Notre Dame on Wednesday to keep their dreams of a regular-season ACC title alive. hgabino@elnuevoherald.com

The seventh-ranked University of Miami Hurricanes play Notre Dame on the road Wednesday night, and a win will get them one step closer to a regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title.

With two games remaining, UM (23-5, 12-4 ACC) is a half game behind ACC leader North Carolina. Wins at Notre Dame and Virginia Tech on Saturday would ensure Miami of a share of the league title. The Hurricanes have won 10 of their past 12 games and are among the favorites to win the ACC Tournament, which begins next week in Washington, D.C.

UM coach Jim Larranaga believes his team could do a lot more than win a conference regular-season title. Asked by reporters on Monday about vying for a national title, Larranaga said it was not out of the realm of possibilities.

“There is that potential,” he said. “The reason I say that is because right now there’s nobody ahead of us. It’s not like I look around and there are five or 10 teams much better than us. We think we’re in the strongest league in the country, and yet in a week we could be regular-season champions.”

The Hurricanes’ first order of business is getting past the Fighting Irish. UM beat Notre Dame 79-70 when they played Feb. 3 in Coral Gables. In that game, the Canes shot 56 percent and freshman Anthony “Amp’’ Lawrence scored a season-high 18 points.

Miami is coming off back-to-back wins over ranked opponents — No. 4 Virginia and No. 11 Louisville. Those wins vaulted them five spots to No. 7 in this week’s AP poll.

“I believe we lost the last time we were in the top 10,” said UM guard Davon Reed, who last week was named to the ACC All-Academic team. “It would be nice to be there for two weeks instead of one.”

The Hurricanes had climbed to No. 8 in mid-January, but dropped consecutive games at Virginia and at Clemson. They’ve gone 10-2 since.

“We’re feeling very good,” Reed said. “Things are clicking at the right time. We’re definitely hitting our stride right now. Everybody is very confident and playing very well together.”

Michelle Kaufman: 305-376-3438, @kaufsports

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