The University of Miami has traditionally been known as a football school, but Jim Larranaga is doing all he can to change that. As the football team has struggled in recent years, going through five different head coaches since Larranaga’s hire in 2011, the former George Mason coach has transformed Miami into one of the most reliable basketball powers in the ACC.
The Hurricanes are in the midst of their best basketball run ever. The past two seasons have seen the school reach its first two Elite Eights, and last year they broke through to reach the Final Four for the first time in program history.
After tying Virginia for the ACC regular season title last season, Miami Basketball is hoping to remain on top, but it faces significant roster turnover. Its top two scorers from last year, ACC Player of the Year Isaiah Wong and Second Team All-ACC selection Jordan Miller, are gone to the NBA. Former Florida State Seminole Matthew Cleveland flipped rivalry allegiances, and the transfer will be an important piece alongside returning starters Nijel Pack, Wooga Poplar, and Norchad Omier.
Expectations around the country are still high for the Hurricanes. In the ACC, only Duke ranks ahead of Miami in the recently released preseason AP poll. The Blue Devils secured the #2 ranking, while Miami came in at #13. North Carolina is the only other ACC school in the top 25, clocking in at 19th.
The battle between these three schools for ACC supremacy should be a fascinating one to follow all season. Miami has the coaching advantage, with Larranaga and his experience a more proven asset than Duke’s Jon Scheyer and UNC’s Hubert Davis, who have just three seasons at the helm combined.
Miami’s starting lineup is likely to consist of five juniors, an experience advantage over Duke, who, other than returning senior point guard Jeremy Roach, will be relying on a group consisting almost entirely of freshmen and sophomores. North Carolina has even more experience than the Hurricanes thanks to the return of R.J. Davis and Armando Bacot, but the Tar Heels will be integrating multiple transfers and freshmen into their rotation, a process that could take time.
Let’s begin our preview of Miami’s season by looking at the Hurricanes’ starting lineup.