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Five things: Miami

The surging ‘Noles stay on the road for a 7 PM Wednesday tip in Coral Gables

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Miami (FL) Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The surprising Seminoles travel to face the disappointing Canes in a Wednesday night matchup.

1. Leonard Hamilton’s assistant coaching tenure at Kentucky is mostly remembered for two things: A) renting a hotel room for an entire year to recruit Sam Bowie, and 2) quitting Dow Chemical after a week on the job – a job he took once he was told he couldn’t be a head coach because he was black – to go to Kentucky where he was the first black assistant in the SEC. Lost in there was the year he won a national title, and he did it in the same season a completely unknown coach at a D2 school made waves by beating Jim Calhoun’s team. That coach – Jim Larranaga – would eventually get his shot to lead a D1 team in the same year as Coach Hamilton: 1986. They’ve both spent their careers resurrecting programs, they both spent one disastrous season coaching in the pros, and now they’re both wrapping up Hall of Fame careers as two of six active head coaches in their 70s. Ham has the edge head-to-head, with a 14-8 record against Coach L.

2. Former Seminole Matthew Cleveland is having a good year for Miami. As we mentioned on the podcast, it’s not a great look that he’s once again putting up good numbers for a team which is underperforming. The Hurricanes began the year ranked 13th in the AP Poll, having returned two high profile transfers, added Cleveland, and gave an increased role to future NBA player Wooga Poplar. The Canes have great experience, four players shooting north of 42% from deep, yet they’ve lost by 20+ to Kentucky and Colorado, and lost at home to Louisville, which – 48 games into Kenny Payne’s head coaching tenure - remains the only game he’s won away from the KFC Yum! Center.

3. The ‘Noles 4-game winning streak has left them right in the middle of conference offense (8th) and defense (6th). On offense, the Seminoles are the 3rd best team at getting to the line, while Miami allows the fewest free throws of any ACC team. Miami has virtually no depth, so refs happy to blow their new whistles would be good fortune for FSU.

4. FSU is in a four-way tie for 2nd place in the conference, and we talked on the pod about 15-5 being the minimum record FSU needs in order to think about dancing. That’s a steep hill to climb, but in the season opening podcast Matt and I both stated that FSU had virtually no chance of reaching the NCAA Tournament, and to couple that with the team being just over two weeks away from their no-show against Lipscomb, we’re in an optimistic position to even be mentioning March Madness. With one year left on his contract, we all want to see Coach Hamilton wrap up his career in a meaningful March game, and getting close this year could put the team in a position to get the job done next year.

5. Even with Cam’Ron Fletcher lost for the season, it suddenly feels like the ‘Noles have some depth. Primo Spears is a spark off the bench, and the two huge buckets he created on his own to salt away the Notre Dame game demonstrate his unique ability on this roster. Jaylan Gainey is starting to look healthy, and you can now pencil in Bol Bowen for double digit minutes each game. If those three continue to get better, then who knows? Why not?