I definitely can’t take a victory lap just yet, but I would like to take a moment to highlight that I wrote before Selection Sunday that Miami Basketball at +900 odds was a great bet to reach the Final Four. Thanks.
The No. 5 seed Hurricanes are now one game away from a trip to Houston, and come in at four point underdogs in a matchup against the No. 2 seed Texas Longhorns. This is the first NCAA Tournament without a single No. 1 seed in the Elite Eight, and on top of that, Texas is the only remaining 2 seed. Madness!
Tipoff is set for 5:05 pm ET on CBS in Kansas City, Missouri.
I’m more confident than ever in this Miami team after that incredible performance in the win over Houston Friday night. But to beat this red hot Texas team, winners of seven in a row, Miami will need to execute in these three key areas.
Keep winning the rebounding battle
Across the last two seasons, people have had the same quibble about Coach Jim Larrañaga’s Miami team. “They’re too small”. Last year, rebounding was definitely a weakness for the Hurricanes, but it didn’t stop them from reaching the Elite Eight. Coach L doubled down on small ball this year, replacing the thin 6-10 Sam Waardenburg with 6-7 Norchad Omier in the transfer portal. 6-6 Jordan Miller is a constant at the four spot.
Last season Miami was 329th in the country in offensive rebounding rate, and 268th in defensive rebounding rate according to KenPom. This season, largely because of Omier’s prowess, those numbers have jumped to 71st on the offensive glass and 175th defensively.
Omier is simply a monster underneath, snatching tough rebounds in traffic game in and game out. He’s averaging 14.7 rebounds per game so far in the NCAA Tournament. Miami out-rebounded an Indiana team that has a First Team All-American big man in Trayce Jackson-Davis by 17, and held their own against Houston, with both teams recording 35 boards apiece. The Hurricanes were underdogs in both of those games, and the main reason why in my opinion is because their lack of size implies that they are susceptible to being dominated on the glass.
But Omier is such a beast down there, and Jordan Miller, Isaiah Wong, and Wooga Poplar all use their athleticism and length to also help secure misses.
Once again, Miami must go toe to toe with a big physical team. But unlike most other teams, Texas isn’t that big either. Nobody on the Longhorns that gets minutes is bigger than 6-10, so Miami won’t be the clearly shorter team for once. I’m confident in their ability to succeed once again on the glass, and it’s necessary that they do if they want to emerge victorious.