Miami Hurricanes Basketball: Why Close Games Help the Hurricanes?

Mike LeeContributor IIIFebruary 20, 2013

Head coach Jim Larranaga and the Miami Hurricanes have won their last two games by a combined six points.
Head coach Jim Larranaga and the Miami Hurricanes have won their last two games by a combined six points.USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes entered last night’s matchup versus the Virginia Cavaliers fresh off of a 45-43 nail-biting win over the Clemson Tigers.

The win was one of the closest wins for the Miami Hurricanes team, who has won their games by an average of 10.5 points per game this season. Last night, the Hurricanes were able to win another squeaker, edging out the Virginia Cavaliers in the final seconds to claim a 54-50 victory.

We have all heard the old adage that says it’s better to suffer a loss prior to the NCAA Tournament. However, there is not much (if any) empirical data that supports that thought process. Actually I’m pretty confident that any coach would rather win as many games as possible as their teams approach the NCAA Tournament.

The Miami Hurricanes are currently 22-3 overall and 13-0 in the ACC after last night’s victory. They have won their last two games by a combined six points and both have been low-scoring games.

The Hurricanes average 68.9 points per game but have only averaged 49.5 points in their last two games. However, if the Hurricanes make a successful run during the NCAA Tournament, these last two games could prove to be more important than they seemingly are right now.

While the Hurricanes have been the talk of the college basketball world, the team is not used to playing with a bull's eye. With their success, they are becoming the team that everyone wants to beat.

The Hurricanes can be warned that they will get the best effort possible from each opponent on their remaining schedule. Both the Clemson Tigers and the Virginia Cavaliers provided proof of that in the Hurricanes last two games.

The Tigers and the Cavaliers also provided a blueprint on how teams could possibly beat the Hurricanes in the future. Both games were tough, defensive games that were played at a slow tempo. It would not be surprising to see teams try to copy this same blueprint when facing the University of Miami.

However, despite the slow tempo, the Hurricanes were able to still win the close games. Miami proved to be a solid defensive team in both games, allowing Clemson to shoot only 30.4 percent and Virginia to shoot only 38.5 percent in both games.

Ultimately, the Hurricanes’ goals for this year are to continue to win games, make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament and compete for a national championship. The team has shown throughout this year that they have all the pieces necessary to accomplish those goals.

They feature an electric backcourt that has the ability to play uptempo and score points and a solid frontcourt that has the ability to score, rebound, and defend. The Hurricanes are now showing that they have the ability to win games in a variety of different ways. That fact alone may prove to be the most important lesson that the Hurricanes can learn prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament.