From the bright beaches of South Beach comes the University of Miami Hurricanes. Miami heads to the Final Four after beating No. 12 seed Drake, No. 4 seed Indiana, No. 1 seed Houston and No. 2 seed Texas. Here are five things to know about the Hurricanes.
1. Jim Larrañaga Has Been Here Before
This isn't Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga's first time in the Final Four. Larrañaga led the Cinderella underdog George Mason Patriots to the Final Four in 2006. After losing in the Colonial Athletic Association semifinals to Hofstra, the Patriots were considered a bubble team. Come selection Sunday, they sneaked in with a No. 11 seed. Their first matchup was against Michigan State, a team that had been in the Final Four the year before. George Mason won that game 75-65, marking the first NCAA Tournament win in Patriots history. George Mason would continue to wear the glass slipper, beating the defending champion UNC Tar Heels, Wichita State and UConn. In the regional final against UConn, Larrañaga led his team back from a 12-point deficit. They would go on to lose against the eventual national champion, the Florida Gators.
2. This Miami's First Final Four Trip
This is the first time in the history of the University of Miami Hurricanes men's basketball program that they are going to the Final Four. Last year, the Hurricanes were just on the edge of going, having made the Elite Eight as a No. 10 seed; but they ended up losing to Kansas, which eventually won the national championship. This is just the 12th time that the Hurricanes have made the NCAA Tournament. Including this tournament, they are 15-11 overall during March Madness. Prior to Larrañaga taking over the program, the Hurricanes had only won four NCAA tournament games.
3. Jordan Miller's Historic Performance
Miami can thank its senior guard Jordan Miller for taking it to the Final Four. If it weren't for his historic play against the Texas Longhorns in the Elite Eight, the Hurricanes might be in Miami right now instead of Houston. Miller, from Middleburg, Virginia, scored a game-high 27 points. He went a perfect 7 for 7 on the floor and 13 for 13 from behind the line. It's the most points scored in the NCAA Tournament without missing a shot since Christian Laettner's effort against Kentucky in the Elite Eight in 1992. On the season per game, Miller has 15.4 points, 2.7 assists and 6.1 rebounds.
4. The Canes Can Score
According to KenPom, the Hurricanes are No. 5 in the country in offensive efficiency. After an upset scare against Drake in the first round of the tournament, Miami hasn't scored fewer than 85 points. They scored a total of 177 points against Houston and Texas, two of the best defenses in the tournament field. They average almost 80 points per game for the season. And they share the scoring wealth, with four different players averaging double-digit points per game: Miller, Isaiah Wong (16.2), Norchad Omier (13.3) and Nijel Pack (13.8).
5. Miami is a Second-Half Team
During this tournament, the Hurricanes have needed time to warm up during the games. They have a -2 point differential in the first half. Twice they were down at halftime, against Texas and Drake. They have found most success in the second half, with a point differential of +46. They outscored Drake by 12 points, Indiana by 11, Houston by 8 and Texas by 15.
Miami plays the betting favorite, the University of Connecticut Huskies, on Saturday at 8:49 p.m. Eastern on CBS.
MORE: From George Mason to Miami: Jim Larrañaga's Sideline Cinderella Story
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