Anticipation high for final Miami home game against North Carolina

Nick Gangemi // Photo Editor

After staving off a ferocious comeback against Florida State, the Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team plays host to the No. 15 North Carolina Tar Heels Saturday afternoon, in a game that could decide Miami’s tournament hopes.

In anticipation of the game, UM students even camped outside of the BankUnited Center Friday night to cheer on the Canes during their 2 p.m. match. The game is being nationally televised on CBS.

To reach the NCAA tournament, head coach Jim Larrañaga has previously said the Hurricanes need a ratings percentage index (RPI) in the top 40. They currently rank 65th.

The matchup against UNC (19-9, 9-6 ACC) will provide the Hurricanes with the last opportunity to boost their RPI. Miami’s remaining games after UNC are against ACC bottom-feeders Georgia Tech, who beat Miami this season, and Virginia Tech.

Team captain Angel Rodriguez may have finally broken out of his prolonged slump after visiting with sports psychologist Bob Rotella. Rotella is a renowned psychologist and is currently with the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats basketball team.

“He was trying to make me think positive, giving me reminders of how things used to be with me early in the season, when I was playing more for fun before the expectations got higher,” Rodriguez said.

Whatever Rotella told Rodriguez, it seemed to work. Rodriguez finished the game against FSU with 25 points, one of his best performances of the season.

“Rotella is a miracle worker when it comes to getting people to think correctly,” Larrañaga said.

Interestingly, Miami has won four straight games against the perennial power.

The game against the Tar Heels is also senior night for Joe Thomas, a graduate transfer student, as well as for six student managers. ​