A basketball city.
Those were the three words that Miami Heat majority owner Micky Arison declared the city of Miami. We all know that basketball in South Florida revolves around the Miami Heat but there’s another team in South Florida who are doing big things and that’s the Miami Hurricanes.
This season if you have or haven’t been following the Hurricanes, it’s the perfect time to start jumping on the bandwagon because this team is on its way to making a sweet 16 run and potentially a final four run in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
You ought to have a lot of pride when it comes to the Miami Hurricanes because this team had worked their tails off, they’ve been coached extremely well and during the NCAA Tournament, and they’ve been nailing their championship contender audition.
— SB Nation CBB (@SBNationCBB) March 20, 2016
This year where the NCAA’s has seen upsets left and right resulting in big programs like USC, Michigan State, Baylor, and Arizona, there hasn’t been any bit of let up from Miami and that fact alone is something that should be marveled. Miami stood their opening round test against Buffalo and survived against a team who was hungry to add another upset to the tournament list.
Buffalo came out determined to send Miami back to the sunshine state as they hit a barrage of three-pointers, to finish the game with 10 makes from distance. However, their three’s weren’t enough as Miami eventually pulled past and got the 79-72 win.
Additionally, when Miami had to face against Wichita State in the next round they also received their biggest test of the season.
Leading up to the game there was so much talk about Wichita State because of their best two players Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker. The dynamic duo took Wichita State to the Elite Eight in 2013 so a lot of people were expecting the senior duo to make another big tournament appearance in their last year of collegiate basketball.
Against the nation’s best defensive unit, Miami went up as many as 21 points as they showed everyone that they were the hunters, not the prey.
“It always bothers us when other teams are favorites, but at the same time, we’re used to it. We’re used to people believing in us, but not fully believing in us. At the end of the day, spreads and seeds and all of that don’t mean anything, especially in this tournament. It’s just whoever is better that day is going to win the game.”
– Miami Hurricanes point guard Angel Rodriguez
However, Miami saw their big lead squander into a deficit. Nevertheless, Miami got a huge effort from their best player Angel Rodriguez who scored a career-high 28 points to help the Hurricanes weather a huge second-half push from the tournament experienced Wichita State. Instead, Rodriguez points were heaven sent because Miami would need every one of then as the Hurricanes pulled away a 65-57 win.
“They should rename the Dunkin’ Donuts Center the Angel Rodriguez Park. He just owned the place. He was so focused, so confident, right from the beginning of the game. He did it on the defensive end of the floor, he did it at the offensive end of the floor with his scoring. He did it with his passing. He just had one of those games where he was totally locked in, very focused on what we needed done.”
– Miami Hurricanes head coach Jim Larrañaga
The Hurricanes next test is against Villanova on Thursday for an opportunity to play in the Elite Eight.
D’Joumbarey A. Moreau covers sports in Miami-Dade & Broward County. You can follow him on Twitter @DJoumbarey