If you’re a Miami basketball fan and disappointed to see the 20-9 Hurricanes rating only about a No. 7 or 8 seed in most of the Bracketology projections out there, just settle down and let it all play out.
There’s a game at Florida State on Saturday night and then the ACC tournament to reset the picture. Remember that Syracuse made it all the way to the Final Four last year as one of the last of eight ACC teams to get into the NCAA field, and the Orange started out with a No. 10 seed.
Jim Larranaga has built quite a reputation on a couple of Sweet 16 appearances at Miami and a shocking Final Four run with George Mason. He’ll get the benefit of every doubt from the bracket-builders based on that history, and on wins over Duke, Virginia and North Carolina this year.
Long-time Miami followers will remember when it was lot tougher than this to get a little national boost.
The Hurricanes went 23-5 in the 1962-63 season and didn’t even make the NCAA tournament. There were only 25 teams in the field back then and Miami, an independent, didn’t rate one of those spots. Never mind that the Hurricanes upset Duke 71-69 at the Miami Beach Convention Center in December. It just wasn’t happening.
What Miami got instead was an invitation to the NIT, and that’s where the program got its first-ever postseason victory. Miami beat St. Francis 71-70 at Madison Square Garden in New York but lost the next night to Providence, the eventual tournament champion.
It was even tougher to take what happened in 1965. Rick Barry led the nation in scoring with an average of 37.4 points per game and the Hurricanes went 22-4 but they weren’t eligible for the NCAA tournament because of NCAA recruiting violations.
Barry scored 50 or more points six times in that senior season and also averaged 18.3 rebounds per game. That put him at the top of a sensational consensus All-America lineup that also included bill Bradley, Gail Goodrich, Cazzie Russell and a high-scoring big man from Davidson named Fred Hetzel. Barry, Bradley and Goodrich went on to be inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, and Hetzel was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1965 draft by the San Francisco Warriors.
As a strong competitor in the ACC, Miami won’t get overlooked like that again.
Overall, it was a long road to achieving the level of recognition that our top state schools have now in basketball, and the Hurricanes got there first.
Miami’s initial appearance in the NCAA tournament was in 1960, followed by FSU in 1968, Jacksonville in 1970, Florida in 1987, South Florida in 1990, Florida Gulf Coast in 2013 and North Florida in 2015.