Miami Hurricanes Basketball: 6 Reasons Miami Will Make the Final Four
The Miami (FL) Hurricanes are now 12-0 in ACC Conference play after pulling out a tough last-minute win at Clemson on Sunday. Can the winning streak continue and will this program advance to their first Final Four in school history?
The Hurricanes are in good position to win their first ACC Conference regular-season title in school history. They now have a three-game lead over the Duke Blue Devils, after they were upset at Maryland on Saturday, 83-81.
This team is flat-out hot, and it is going to be a team to be reckoned with in the NCAA tournament next month.
The Hurricanes could find themselves in the Final Four when it's all said and done because of the talent on the court and a coach who has proved that he can win.
Here are six reasons why the Hurricanes will make the Final Four:
1. Strong Play from Sophomore Shane Larkin
Sophomore guard Shane Larkin. (Photo: Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports)
No one has been more important to this Hurricane team than sophomore guard Shane Larkin.
His strong leadership and solid guard play has propelled this team to an impressive 21-3 record.
Prior to the Clemson game on Sunday, where he had an off-night with only seven points, he had averaged 17.6 points in his last five games.
Larkin has also been good at distributing the ball to his teammates and has averaged 4.3 assists in Miami's past six games.
If he continues to be a game-changer and leader for this team at the point guard position, there is no way of knowing how difficult this team becomes once tournament time rolls around.
Larkin has averaged 13.2 points per game and 4.1 assists per game this season for the Hurricanes.
Watch for Larkin to continue to lead this dangerous Miami team down the stretch.
2. Scoring from Senior Durand Scott
Senior guard Durand Scott. Hector Gabino / el Nuevo Herald
Senior guard Durand Scott has been a force to be reckoned with this season.
He has played well the entire season and leads his team with 13.4 points per game.
Scott played one of this best games of the season when the Hurricanes blew out Duke, 90-63, at home on January 23. He had a season high of 25 points.
Not only has Scott been one of Miami's main scorers this season, he has been an effective rebounder as well.
He only scored three points against Clemson on Sunday but recorded an impressive 11 rebounds. His rebounding ended up playing a key role in the Hurricanes ugly 45-43 win.
Scott has averaged 6.5 rebounds in Miami's past four games.
If Scott continues to be an effective scorer and plays a role in the rebounding game on the defensive end, the Hurricanes are going to continue to be successful down the stretch.
Scott, combined with Shane Larkin and Trey McKinney Jones, makes up one of the best backcourts in college basketball this season. If the three of them keep playing solid out on the perimeter, Miami has the chance to make its first Final Four.
3. The Hurricanes Frontcourt
K. Kadji (35) and J. Gamble (45) with R. Brown (15). (Photo: Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports)
Both have presented problems for their opponents because of their physical play on the boards.
Senior Kenny Kadji is the main reason why the Hurricanes are still undefeated in ACC play. Kadji hit a key three-pointer with 39 seconds remaining in the game to give the Hurricanes a 44-43 lead over Clemson. Miami, of course, ended up winning the game, 45-43.
Kadji can do so much for this team. He can get his team points down low, take three-pointers and play hard on the glass defensively.
Kadji has a field-goal percentage of 48.7 and is 36.5 from beyond the arc. He also leads the team in rebounds this season with 155.
Senior Julian Gamble has been solid in the frontcourt as well. Gamble may not be as dangerous as Kadji, but he can put points up when the Hurricanes need him to and be tough on the glass.
Gamble has played well defensively by leading his team in blocks with 46 and has averaged 5.1 rebounds per game.
With these two players continuing to be tough on both ends of the floor, it could be another reason why the Hurricanes make their first Final Four.
4. Head Coach Jim Larranaga
Miami head coach Jim Larranaga. CHARLES TRAINOR JR / MIAMI HERALD STAFF
Second-year head coach Jim Larranaga knows a thing or two about making an NCAA tournament and advancing to a Final Four.
His Patriots were not just a one-hit wonder, though; he took George Mason to the NCAA tournament five times (2011, 2008, 2006, 2001, 1999).
With Larranaga's experience, Miami becomes even more dangerous as the season progresses and tournament time nears. He has already proved to be a good coach for Miami in his second season. The Hurricanes already have 21 wins and are atop the ACC Conference standings.
Larranaga is a winner, and with more talent than he had on the court at George Mason, there is no reason why he can't take this team to a Final Four as well.
5. Reggie Johnson off the Bench
Senior center Reggie Johnson after defeating NC State.
Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Senior center Reggie Johnson has been the catalyst off the bench for this Miami Hurricane team lately.
Johnson was a starter at the beginning of the season but missed eight games with a left thumb fracture.
Since his return against Duke on January 23, Johnson has averaged 6.8 points and 6.8 rebounds off the bench.
His big games have been on the road against NC State and Florida State.
Against NC State, Johnson scored 15 points and had eight rebounds. His tip-in basket with less than a second left in the game kept the Hurricanes undefeated ACC Conference streak intact.
Johnson also had a big game last Wednesday at in-state rival Florida State when he dropped 14 points and recorded eight rebounds.
He is a big body and presents problems for opponents in the paint. Johnson is dangerous down low and is physical on the glass as well.
With Johnson being a game-changer off the bench in crucial games, it gives the Hurricanes depth and a big advantage as they attempt to make a run at the Final Four.
6. Hurricane Consistency
Sophomore guard Shane Larkin.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
The Hurricanes are by far the most consistent team in the country right now.
They may have had a close game at Clemson Sunday night, but they managed to find a way to win the game.
Every team is going to have those tough games, and the good ones find a way to win them.
Miami has won 13 games in a row and have not lost in 2013 yet.
The Hurricanes have a tougher time on the road, like many teams would, but they make the clutch plays when they need them in the last minute of the game. They did this at Boston College, NC State and Clemson.
At home, the Hurricanes have dominated their opponents. They defeated Duke by 27 points on January 23 and North Carolina by 26 points on February 9.
With a solid starting five and Reggie Johnson coming off the bench, the Hurricanes are going to continue to be the team to beat.
The Hurricanes are undefeated at the BankUnited Center this season and will win their last four games they have there. The tough game is going to be at Duke on March 2.
Look for Miami to take the ACC regular-season title and be the favorite to win the ACC tournament.
If the Hurricanes keep playing well and winning games, their consistent play could land them in the Final Four.