I will admit, this could be a little premature, but I am sure that many other college basketball fans are looking forward to this coming weekend. On Saturday, March 2, the No. 5 Miami Hurricanes will face the third-ranked Duke Blue Devils in a much anticipated rematch of their highly publicized January 23rd matchup. The then 25th-ranked Miami team defeated the then No. 1 ranked Duke team, 90-63 in their initial meeting.
However, both teams are facing hurdles prior to their weekend matchup. The Miami Hurricanes will play Virginia Tech on Wednesday night (February 27th) prior their game versus Duke on Saturday. Duke faces Virginia on Thursday night (February 28th) prior to the Saturday rematch.
Many analysts and bracketologists anticipated that this game could determine a potential No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Duke is currently a 1-seed in the East Region of Joe Lunardi’s most recent February 26th edition of Bracketology. After Miami’s loss to Wake Forest last weekend, the Hurricanes dropped to a 2-seed in the Midwest Region.
Both teams have very strong tournament resumes. Duke is ranked 1st in the nation in RPI and second in the nation in the Basketball Power Index (BPI). Miami is ranked 5th in the most recent AP Top 25 rankings. They are also currently 14th in the nation in the BPI ranking and second, behind Duke, in the RPI rating.
The other factors that many other pundits consider are very similar also. Duke is second in the country in strength of schedule while Miami is third. Miami is 5-1 versus the RPI Top 25, 6-1 versus the RPI Top 50 and 14-2 versus the RPI Top 100. Likewise, Duke is 5-2 versus the RPI Top 25, 8-2 versus the RPI Top 50 and 12-3 versus the RPI Top 100.
Where Miami does have a slight edge is in their conference record. After suffering their first conference loss to Wake Forest, Miami is currently 13-1 in ACC games, good for first in the conference. Duke has an 11-3 conference record and is in second place in the conference standings. If Miami is able to beat Duke for a second time, the Hurricanes would then have a strong argument for a No. 1 seed over Duke.
Again, not to look past the two upcoming games for both teams, but the Miami/Duke matchup could be one of the most exciting games of the college basketball season. However, with Miami point guard Shane Larkin’s recent admission, it is imperative for the Hurricanes to approach their matchup versus Virginia Tech with the proper intensity and focus in order to win. Larkin admitted that the Hurricanes overlooked Wake Forest prior to their recent loss to the Demon Deacons.
Likewise, Duke cannot look ahead to their matchup versus Miami and take Virginia lightly either. The Cavaliers are currently in fourth place in the ACC standings with a 9-5 conference record. Virginia is a strong defensive team and is currently fourth in the nation in points allowed per game.
Given their earlier matchup and what is potentially at stake, a top seed in the NCAA Tournament, college basketball fans could see an epic battle this upcoming weekend.