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Previewing the Miami Hurricanes

After a successful two game home-stand the Seminoles (13-5, 3-1) now travel south to take on the Miami Hurricanes (12-5, 1-2). Miami is coming off their 1st conference win of the season, a one-point squeaker at home against Boston College. The Hurricanes have a very good non-conference win over West Virginia, and questionable early losses to Memphis and Rutgers. They also lost to UCF.

This is the 11th season of Miami basketball since they shared the Big East title under coach Leonard Hamilton. Since then they’ve played only twice in the NCAA tournament, and their best finish in six ACC seasons is a tie for 5th place. Head coach Frank Haith, who’s never led Miami to a winning conference record, clearly has his work cut out for him if he wants to break that streak. The good news is that he has the talent.

Miami features one of the top-3 ACC backcourts in junior Malcolm Grant and sophomore Durand Scott. The two have complimentary skillsets with Grant being the one to light it up from beyond the arc, and Scott being the physical, interior guard. Since transferring from Villanova, Grant has put up unusual numbers in the college game in that he’s better shooting 3’s then he is shooting 2’s. Durand Scott is the opposite, being a rare shortish player that can score in volume from within the paint. Both players create shots for their teammates, though their turnover rates are more than you’d want. The third dangerous member of the Miami offense is sophomore big man Reggie Johnson. The 300 pounder is a rebounding machine, ranking in the top-15 nationally in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Just on one end he rebounds one in five Miami misses. He can also block shots, and like most Hurricane players he knows how to get to the line. The wildcard is forward Adrian Thomas – who’s been around Miami long enough to have played against Alexander Johnson and Diego Romero. Despite being 6’7" the 6th year senior has taken 84% of his shots from beyond the arc. Eight times this season he’s made at least three 3-pointers in a game.

Miami’s offense is very good, and they accomplish this by extending possessions with offensive rebounds and drawing fouls. They score off the dribble and generate few assists. Their weakness is on the defensive end, where they neither force turnovers nor keep teams from grabbing offensive boards (especially with Johnson on the bench). The past few seasons under Haith Miami has typically employed a soft press which transitions into a 2-3 matchup zone. Expect a lot of this tonight.

The game tips at 9pm, and is broadcast on Fox Sports Florida. Pomeroy has Miami favored by 1, and Vegas agrees.