Teams: Syracuse Orange (17-9, 6-7) vs. Miami Hurricanes (18-7, 7-6)
Day & Time: Saturday, February 17, 2018, Noon ET
Location: Watsco Center, Coral Gables, Fla.
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
Miami blog: State of the U
Rivalry: 17-8, Syracuse
Current Streak: 1, ‘Canes
First Meeting: Fleeing the cold of Central New York, Syracuse trekked down to the Miami area for Hurricane Classic in December of 1963. After getting by Princeton, they’d meet with the home team, Miami, and squeaked by with an 86-85 victory in overtime. Dave Bing scored 29 points. Senior center Bob Murray put up a random 16 as well.
Last Meeting: While I sat watching horrified on a plane to New York, Syracuse fell 62-57 to Miami in the second round of the ACC Tournament (ultimately dashing the Orange’s at-large chances). SU found themselves down eight at the half, but battled back on the defense end in the second. Still, it wasn’t enough. The Orange were stone-cold from three (33 percent) and lost on the boards. That was plenty to let Miami keep distance at the end.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (42nd year, 1,021-366); Miami: Jim Larrañaga (7th year, 157-76)
Coach Bio: The Bronx native played at pre-Big East Providence, then took up as an assistant coach at Davidson before getting his first head job at (DII) American International. Reasonable success there led him to Virginia, then after seven years, his first head coaching job at Bowling Green. The Falcons were a serviceable MAC team, making a few NIT trips, which was enough for George Mason to want him to take over the Patriots. Larrañaga made the NCAAs in year two, and led the program’s miracle run to the Final Four in 2006. Five years later, he was off to Miami. He’s pretty much UM’s most successful coach to-date, with three NCAA bids, two Sweet 16s and an ACC Tournament title.
Last Year: Miami went 21-12 and despite a middling finish in the ACC, still managed to upset North Carolina, Duke and Virginia. Following a quarterfinals loss in the conference tournament, that was enough to get them in as an 8-seed in the Midwest bracket. They’d fall to Michigan State by 20 points in the first round. Over the offseason, some FBI issues came up, though not to the same extent of Louisville’s own troubles there (yet).
Last Game: UVA smothered the ‘Canes to death in the first half, allowing just 16 points. Miami wound up with 50, but it wasn’t enough in the 59-50 home defeat vs. the nation’s top team. The Hurricanes shot just 38 percent on the game, and 29 percent from three (on 21 attempts). They were out-rebounded and managed just six assists. This wasn’t pleasant.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Dewan Huell is 6-foot-11 and should present a few problems for Syracuse’s thin group of forwards. He’s averaging 11.8 points and 6.6 boards per game, while getting to the line at least three times per as well. We’d be remiss to avoid mention of Dejan Vasiljevic, however. The Melbourne native tormented SU last year, and can go off from three here and there (he was 5-of-10 vs. Boston College).
Jack Ferguson Memorial Random Three-Point Performance: When taking a quick look at the team stats for Miami, your eyes immediately go to Sam Waardenburg. At 12.5 minutes per game, he’s in that silent assassin sweet spot, and he’s also hit 11-of-19 from outside. Waardenburg’s minutes have also ticked up of late. In the past five games, he’s averaging 16 minutes per, and he’s been 8-of-11 from three.
If Syracuse Wins: That’s one win on a list of several that we’ll need to keep the NCAA Tournament conversation afloat. No need for a parade. But the victory is definitely helpful for us to build on down the stretch.
If Syracuse Loses: Doesn’t change much in that Syracuse’s hopes are pretty low, so they get slightly lower. The Orange would be forced to win at least three of the final four, then go on a mini-run in the ACC Tournament. Not fun, especially with only a handful of healthy players.
Fun Fact No. 1: We’ve mentioned this before, but ZERO Big East Tournament meetings between these two programs during a 13-year stretch sharing the league. Makes little sense, really. You’d figure the wheel would randomly land on that matchup once in that stretch.
Fun Fact No. 2: Larrañaga is two victories away from having as many 20-win seasons (six) in Miami as all of his predecessors combined since the ‘Canes rejoined Division I in 1985. Frank Haith didn’t get one until year four, Perry Clark had one, Leonard Hamilton waited until year eight (of nine) and Bill Foster fell short of ever hitting the mark. It’s weird to think about a major college athletic program not having basketball from 1971-85, but that’s Miami.