Coming Up Next: Can Miami (FL) Make it to No. 1?

Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

In the midst of party platter madness and Super Bowl shenanigans, the University of Miami (FL) men’s basketball team has quietly become the most dangerous squad in college basketball.

Midway through conference play, the Hurricanes (17-3, 8-0 ACC) have defied preseason predictions, and found themselves at the top of one of the toughest conferences in the NCAA. One question still remains for Jim Larranaga‘s boys: can an alignment of under appreciated roles players finish the season as the nation’s No. 1?

Remember, Larranaga was once the epitome of a Cinderella story when he guided George Mason to a final four in 2006. He might just bust brackets again with a team that was predicted to finish between third and fifth in the conference.

After dominating then No.1 Duke at home, and No. 19 NC State on the road, the answer is most certainly yes. Duke remains as the only ranked opponent left on Miami’s schedule, making an undefeated ACC run possible. The fact that the Hurricanes’ matchup with the Blue Devils is in Durham, NC makes the remaining slate of games even more interesting.

The Hurricanes have already shown their desire for drama-filled contests with their recent win against NC State. With 0.8 second remaining, Reggie Johnson‘s tip to win the game sent nearly 19,000 Wolfpack fans home devastated. The win exemplified Miami’s ability to bail out poor shooting with strong defense, as the Hurricanes were only able to net three of their 21 three pointers.

If it weren’t for unbelievable losses to Florida Gulf Coast and Indiana State — with one legitimate loss coming against No. 4 Arizona at home — the Hurricanes would be sitting with one loss, most likely as the nation’s top ranked college basketball team. There is a high possibility that the ‘Canes face Duke with an undefeated ACC record of 15-0 barring a win against North Carolina at home, who they defeated 68-59 on the road on Jan. 10.

The Hurricanes are led by the senior tandem of guard Durand Scott and forward Kenny Kadji, whose consistency has left Miami opponents dazed and confused. Together, the two are averaging over 27 points and 11 rebounds each game.

With the lack of quit in the DNA of the Hurricanes, it can be determined that they are certainly in the conversation for the nation’s best team, even if they don’t finish conference play undefeated.

Follow John Engel on Twitter: @engelsportsguy

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