Miami (Fla.) certainly appears to be well past its Dow Jones season of a year ago.
A year ago, the Hurricanes were one of the most tantalizing-but-inconsistent teams in America, and as a result finished just shy of an NCAA Tournament berth. This year, though, the Hurricanes have established themselves as a legitimate top 25 team, and quite likely will continue to be even more than that if they can continue results like their 80-69 win over Duke Monday night.
The Hurricanes have been perpetual tormentors of the Blue Devils of late anyway, and now have won four of their last six games against Duke. However, Miami is now 16-3 overall and has bounced back from a pair of road losses (at Virginia and Clemson) to win three straight in the ACC, all by double figures. In fact, the Canes have now won by double digits in 15 of their 16 wins this year (the lone outlier-Dec. 1 at Nebraska, a 77-72 triumph).
Clearly, the continuity of having the same team together for almost three years now has paid off at Miami. Remember-even though they weren’t playing in 2013-14, Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan were practicing with the team that year, and they are now two of the indispensable pieces on a team where five of the top six players are juniors and seniors. Sure enough, it was McClellan scoring a game-high 21 on Monday and Rodriguez added 13 points plus 11 assists.
At this point, there’s little doubt Miami is headed to the NCAA Tournament; the only question will be where it is seeded (projections had the Hurricanes popularly as a 3 or 4 seed on Monday before this result). The Canes have never been past the Sweet 16 in the tourney; in this wild year, though, perhaps they’re as good of a darkhorse Final Four pick as just about anyone?
- Incredible how quickly Iowa State fans’ opinions of Steve Prohm have changed. A week ago the program’s decline was all but guaranteed if one read the online chatter. Now, Prohm could almost run for mayor after an 85-72 win over Kansas, the Cyclones’ second win over a top 5 team in eight days.
- Oakland completed a sweep of the Wisconsin road swing in the Horizon League by winning at Wisconsin-Milwaukee 82-79. Kahlil Felder (17 points, 12 assists) against Jordan Johnson (20 points, nine assists) was a virtual draw in a battle of the nation’s two leading assist men, but the Golden Grizzlies received a big assist from Max Hooper, who scored 21 on seven three-pointers. Milwaukee played without Akeem Springs, its No. 2 scorer (14.3 ppg) who missed the game with a leg injury.
- Davidson got a much-needed 78-70 win at Richmond as Peyton Aldridge scored a career-high 34 points.
- Couple particularly wild games Monday night: Georgia Southern defeated Appalachian State 101-100 as Mike Hughes made a three-pointer from 35 feet out and was fouled at the end. The Mountaineers lost despite 37 points from Frank Eaves. Also, this is the same Georgia Southern program that played a 38-36 game in the Sun Belt tourney final a year ago-don’t anyone tell you some coaches haven’t made big changes this year in how they coach as a result of the rule changes.
- Meanwhile, Wisconsin-Green Bay survived Detroit 115-108 in overtime despite committing the same sin, fouling the Titans’ Anton Wilson as he made a three from the corner with six seconds left and eventually sent the game to overtime. Normally known for his defense, Green Bay’s Jordan Fouse scored a career-best 30 points and added 14 rebounds.
- Texas Southern is now 7-0 in the SWAC after a 78-49 rout of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
- South Carolina State pinned Hampton with its first MEAC loss and tightened up the conference race with a 67-62 win on the road. The Bulldogs now trail the Pirates by just one game, with Norfolk State-a 92-73 winner over Savannah State-sandwiched in between just half a game behind their rival in first.
- Bucknell stays in first in the Patriot League with a 79-67 win over Lafayette. Also, Stony Brook stayed atop the America East with an 81-54 rout of Maine.
- We still don’t know everything about Indiana, but the Hoosiers sure do look improved defensively of late, albeit against a still-relatively middling schedule. IU is at Wisconsin (7 p.m. EST, ESPN), where it has not won in 18 years.
- Among the Big East’s top teams, Xavier and Providence have not met yet. That changes with their top-10 matchup tonight (8:30 p.m., FS1) at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
- Suddenly a very key game in the Big East is Creighton at Georgetown (6:30 p.m., FS1). The Bluejays already beat the Hoyas in Omaha, and both teams need this one almost equally-Creighton because it can’t collect enough quality wins; the Hoyas because they can’t afford any more home losses.
- Bob Huggins former vs. Bob Huggins current as Kansas State goes to West Virginia (7 p.m., ESPNews). Also in the Big 12, still top-ranked (in the AP) Oklahoma hosts Texas Tech (7 p.m., ESPN2).
- Virginia still has that shaky look to it. The Cavaliers better look out at Wake Forest, even as (or perhaps because) the Demon Deacons have lost four straight, three in decisive fashion.
- Two of the best in the MAC square off with Northern Illinois at Akron. One of the best secrets in the country: the Zips rank third in the nation with 11.5 three-pointers per game.
- Florida still holds a decent NCAA tourney resume as of late January, but the Gators need to keep winning in games like theirs at Vanderbilt (9 p.m., ESPNU). Also, Georgia needs to get to work if it has postseason hopes, and a win at LSU (9 p.m., ESPN) would be a solid chip in a jumbled SEC where nine teams are currently separated by two games.
- Mountain West leader San Diego State will be tested on the road at Nevada (11 p.m., ESPNU).
Have a great Tuesday.