Miami Basketball Notebook: Tournament Talk
Feb. 21, 2011
By Rob Dunning
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – With just three games left in the regular season, it’s time to start going over some ACC and NCAA Tournament scenarios for the 13th-ranked University of Miami women’s basketball team….
Miami (23-3, 9-2 ACC) will play three times in the next seven days to wrap up its regular season schedule, beginning with tonight’s home contest against Wake Forest (12-15, 3-8) at 7 p.m. UM will then remain at home on Thursday and play host to rival Florida State (22-5, 10-2) before wrapping up with a trip to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech (20-8, 8-4) on Sunday.
If the ‘Canes are to take home the regular season ACC crown, they would need to win these next three games and get a little help. Duke (24-3, 10-2) currently sits in the driver’s seat and owns the tiebreaker over UM and FSU, meaning if it wins its last two games (at Virginia Thursday and home against North Carolina on Sunday) it clinches the top seed in the ACC tourney. If however, the Blue Devils happen to lose one of their last two games and the ‘Canes win out, Miami would have its first regular season ACC title. It’s certainly possible considering the Tar Heels already beat the Blue Devils a few weeks back.
As far as the NCAA tournament goes, it’s looking more and more like Miami will be a top-4 seed if it continues to play the way it has been playing as of late. ESPN Bracketology expert Charlie Creme will publish his updated bracket later today, but he had the ‘Canes as a three seed last week and they since picked up a strong road win at Boston College.
The one seeds are still looking like they have most of the year – Tennessee, Connecticut, Stanford and Baylor. Behind them, Texas A&M, Duke, Xavier, Notre Dame and UCLA have the strongest cases to earn two seeds, with one – likely Notre Dame if the season ended today – falling to a third seed.
Then it gets interesting. The next tier of teams could see a lot of movement the next few weeks, especially if any make a deep run in their conference tournament. Miami is a group along with DePaul, Michigan State, UNC, FSU, Green Bay, Oklahoma and Maryland that could end up as high as a two seed if they were to win out or as low as a five or six seed with a poor finish before Selection Monday.
Obviously a lot will happen between now and the March 14 when the field is announced, but the ‘Canes already have a worthy resumé for one of the lower seeds. The Hurricanes’ current RPI is 13, putting them just behind Notre Dame and Xavier and just ahead of teams like Georgetown, FSU and Oklahoma. The ‘Canes have four wins over ranked opponents, including three in the last month. The ACC is No. 2 in conference RPI (behind the Big 12) and the ‘Canes are in serious contention to potentially win it or finish second or third. That right there says enough about what Miami has accomplished so far.
Some important dates to keep an eye on the next few weeks as the ‘Canes keep building upon their memorable season…
Feb. 21 – host Wake Forest
Feb. 24 – host Florida State
Feb. 27 – play at Georgia Tech
March 3 – ACC Tournament begins (Greensboro, N.C.)
March 6 – ACC Tournament Championship Game
March 14 – NCAA Field of 64 is announced on Selection Monday
March 19 – First round of the NCAA Tournament Begins (UM’s site is TBD)
April 3-5 – Final Four in Indianapolis
Here are a few other notes heading into UM’s final regular season week….
Pink Zone Tonight
The University of Miami will participate in Pink Zone® 2011 at tonight’s game against Wake Forest at the BankUnited Center. An entire evening of events are planned to celebrate breast cancer survivors, further educate fans about breast health and raise money for breast cancer research.
Click here for more information on tonight’s Pink Zone festivities.
Following tonight’s game against the Demon Deacons, the ‘Canes will have two days to prepare for what could potentially be their biggest game of the season – a home tilt against 12th-ranked Florida State Thursday night at the BUC. The winner of that game will likely secure themselves at No. 2 seed in the ACC tournament, with the potential of moving up to the top spot if Duke falls in one of its last two games.
Johnson Scoring More
Junior guard Shenise Johnson has really picked up her scoring as of late, averaging 25.3 points per game over Miami’s last three games. Over that span, she is shooting 58.5-percent from the field (24-of-41), 58.3-percent from behind the arc (7-of-12) and 91.3-percent from the line (21-of-23). In UM’s most recent game against Boston College, Johnson scored 30 points for the second time in the last three games while grabbing seven boards and dishing out eight assists in the win over the Eagles.
She enters tonight’s game as the ACC’s second-leading scorer at 19.7 points per game, trailing only Riquna Williams’ average of 21.7 per game.
For tickets to tonight’s game against Wake Forest or Thursday’s home finale against Florida State, visit www.HurricaneSports.com or call 1-800-GO-CANES.