With its best-ever performance in the NCAA Tournament last year (reaching the Elite Eight), Miami is looking for even further glory in this season’s rendition. It was selected as a No. 5 seed, doubling its seed number from last year’s No. 10. Here is what the ‘Canes can do to maximize their success in this year’s March Madness.
Protect the lead at all costs
Several times this year, Miami has allowed opponents to mount successful comebacks. Between allowing Florida State to come back from 25 points down in the second half and Pittsburgh to come back from nine points down with 1:13 left in the contest back in January, no lead is a guaranteed win. Miami needs to avoid this, especially in the early rounds. Since 1985, there have been 55 upsets of a No. 12 seed beating a No. 5 seed. Miami’s opponent in the first round will be the Drake Bulldogs, who won the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Tournament and are winners of 13 of their last 14 games. This is a team that Miami cannot underestimate and needs to protect its lead against.
Rebounding is key
Miami is 20-1 this season when it outrebounds its opponent. Combine that with Miami’s efficient shooting clip of 48.6 percent from the field, and it could create a lot of separation from its opponents. A large part of the rebounding and efficient scoring will come from forward Norchad Omier, who averages 13.6 points per game on 59 percent shooting, in addition to his 9.7 rebounds per contest. He injured his ankle in his last game against Duke, keeping him out for the remainder of that game. Omier is expected to play against Drake, according to Jeff Goodman of Stadium.
Between Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Player of the Year Isaiah Wong and star guard Nijel Pack, Miami can score in tremendous magnitudes when those two catch fire. The two guards score a combined 29.4 points per game. Additionally, Miami has a record of 8-2 when sophomore guard Wooga Poplar scores in double figures in a game this season. Having an additional scoring threat will allow the team more space for its scoring stars and, ultimately, more success in the tournament.
Miami will face off against Drake in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at 7:25 p.m. at the MVP Arena in Albany, N.Y.