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Scouting Miami

Neither Andrew nor I has seen Miami play much. To get a feel for the 2008 'Canes, I asked Carolina March for a few words on Texas' second round opponent:

Miami was the surprise of the ACC this year, having been picked last in the conference by a lot of people in the preseason. After they coasted through an easy non-conference schedule (beating Mississippi State and with their only loss coming against Winthrop) consensus opinion was readjusted to think of them as the Clemson teams of the last couple of years - feasting on cupcakes in December and then collapsing when faced with a conference slate.

And to some extent, that's what happened. The Hurricanes lost six of their first eight ACC games and were written off in the first week of February. Their defense was sorely lacking, they couldn't shoot, and they fouled way too much.  And just when everyone stopped paying attention, they won six of their last eight, including their first win over Duke since 1962.

Defensively not much had changed, and they had developed a new spark on offense. Jack McClinton was no longer their only offense weapon - you saw more action from players like Dwayne Collins at forward and Jimmy Graham on the wing. In those last eight games, their offense was suddenly more efficient than Duke and Clemson, and they finished 5th in conference.

Miami still struggles defensively, and the teams they have the most problems with are the ones than can push them around down low, like UNC, Florida State and Clemson. Even lowly N.C. State was able to escape with a win at the Hurricanes' lowest. McClinton is still the greatest offensive threat, as his performance against St. Mary's obviously attests, but they have a balanced offensive attack to fall back on when he struggles. The easiest way to beat Miami is to control the boards and bait them into foul trouble. They're a senior and junior laden team, but without much postseason experience. Many  folks thought they were ripe to be upset in the opening round; Texas should be able to handle them comfortably.