Rayno's college basketball insider: It's Hurricanes' season in the ACC

  • Updated: February 9, 2013 - 8:30 AM

  With a senior-laden lineup, Miami has been perfect in ACC play so far, soaring to the No. 8 ranking and picking up fans.

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A fan takes a picture with Miami's Reggie Johnson after a 90-63 win against Duke.

Photo: Alan Diaz, Associated Press - Ap

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Miami (Fla.) coach Jim Larranaga knows no one expected this.

Before the season started, college basketball reporters and analysts fell all over themselves to predict how the three Triangle squads -- Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State -- would arrange themselves at the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Well, the surprise was on everyone else: Instead, it's Miami -- picked mostly to finish fourth or fifth in the league -- that leads the pack after a 9-0 conference start that featured victories over North Carolina and N.C. State. Oh, and over No. 4 Duke by 27 points.

The 63-year-old Larranaga, in his second year at Miami, has been here before. In 2006, he masterminded George Mason's Cinderella run to the Final Four. Now that he is heading another surprise team, he is authoring another strange bit of history, making the Hurricanes the first squad other than Duke or UNC to go 8-0 in the ACC since Virginia did it in 1981. One of the assistants on that Ralph Sampson-led Cavaliers team? Jim Larranaga.

With plenty of experience handling pressure, Larranaga is intent on keeping his team -- which has the No. 1 strength of schedule in the country and is the only major-conference program undefeated in league play -- concentrating on a cliché: one game at a time.

"Our focus level has to be at an all-time high," center Reggie Johnson told the Miami Herald. "Every team looks at us as a trap game, because we're undefeated. Coach L makes sure we take one game at a time. We will not look ahead. He won't let us."

The Hurricanes have proven capable of handling the new attention -- they are ranked No. 8, tying their highest AP ranking ever, even though no current player has been to the NCAA tournament -- while avoiding slips. A prime example: The way the Hurricanes have performed in the games after the big games, such as Tuesday's Boston College victory after a big win at N.C. State.

It helps that Larranaga's players, who were far off the college hoops radar after losing their second game of the year to Florida Gulf Coast, don't have their heads in the clouds. With all five starters returning from last season -- four of them seniors now -- it's a savvy and experienced group. The Hurricanes have two 22-year-olds, one 23-year-old and one 24-year old in the starting lineup, plus a pretty talented sophomore in Shane Larkin, the son of Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin.

At the same time, Larranaga tries to help players find balance between staying focused and enjoying the success that has come so rarely to Coral Gables. The Hurricanes, seldom a hot ticket, sold out their Duke and Florida State games and have already sold out Saturday's rematch with North Carolina. After the N.C. State game, students actually greeted the team bus as it pulled into the arena.

"I think that's very, very special," Larranaga said to Miami media. "My message to the team was just appreciate this and don't just go run by them and go into the locker room. Take pictures, shake hands, high-five them and thank them for coming out."

SHORT TAKES

• With the overall undefeated teams falling long ago, the teams that remain undefeated in conference play are getting all the attention. But in the spirit of this unpredictable season, nothing is what it's expected to be. Florida -- online analyst Ken Pomeroy's favorite to finish without a conference loss in the weak SEC -- got trounced by Arkansas on Tuesday. After losses this week by formerly perfect-in-conference-play Belmont and Southern Miss, the others remaining in a list compiled by CBS Sports: North Carolina Central (8-0 MEAC), Norfolk State (9-0 MEAC), Gonzaga (9-0 West Coast), Akron (9-0 MAC), Miami (Fla.) (9-0 ACC), Montana (13-0 Big Sky), Louisiana Tech (11-0 WAC) and Memphis (8-0 Conference USA).

• One Kansas state senator has taken it upon himself to instigate a new old-fashioned rivalry, whether the teams involved like it or not. Sen. Michael O'Donnell, R-Wichita, introduced a bill that would require Kansas and Wichita State to play each other in alternating games between the locations every other year. Initially, O'Donnell's proposal would have stripped the schools of state funding if they refused, an aspect on which he later softened -- stating he didn't want to seem "punitive" -- while adding Kansas State into the mix. "I think it would really benefit Wichita," he told the Wichita Eagle. "I could see thousands of people coming out. I think this is a win-win." So far, however, Kansas coach Bill Self is not on board.

• With all of the court-storming that has occurred in the past month -- more than a dozen, USA Today's Nicole Auerbach counts -- it's no wonder it's become a topic of conversation, especially with such strange rushings such as Wake Forest, after beating then-No. 19 North Carolina State. Some -- such as Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis -- have criticized the practice, saying it can shake a team's focus for the ensuing game or likening it to a mosh pit that has the potential to be dangerous. But others explain that showing such passion is often present is good for the sport and likely to continue so long as leagues don't implement rules (and fines) against the practice, as the SEC has.

BIG TEN POWER POLL

1. Michigan: This could be a back-and-forth battle with the Hoosiers all year.

2. Indiana: Until the final four minutes of Thursday's loss to the Illini, the Hoosiers were still doing everything right.

3. Michigan State: One thing we learned Wednesday in a victory over the Gophers: These Spartans are tough.

4. Ohio State: How much better is this offense looking since the start of the season? It's significant.

5. Wisconsin: The Badgers still haven't had a "bad" Big Ten loss, if you consider that playing at Iowa is tough.

6. Illinois: This is why this is a power poll and not a records poll. The Illini, 3-7 in conference play, showed enough fight on Thursday to warrant it.

7. Minnesota: After five losses in seven games, the Gophers are once again in need of a spark.

8. Iowa: I know the Boilermakers beat them, but the Hawkeyes have been so much more competitive in their losses. They are better than their 3-7 league mark indicates.

9. Purdue: Hard to believe the Boilermakers have the same record (5-5) as Minnesota in conference play.

10. Northwestern: The Wildcats have certainly had some interesting wins, anyway.

11. Nebraska: A six-point loss to Ohio State shows a hint of some real potential.

12. Penn State: It's about time to start looking ahead to next year.

 

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Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 76 3rd Qtr 2:12
Sacramento 78
Oklahoma City 59 2nd Qtr 1:08
Golden State 63
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 3 2nd Prd 15:18
Los Angeles 1
Edmonton 2 2nd Prd 10:46
San Jose 2
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
FIU 58 FINAL
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
LSU 79 FINAL
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
CS-Dominguez 47 2nd Half 1:19
Cal State Fullerton 72
Walla Walla 31 2nd Half 4:55
Idaho 75
DePaul 49 2nd Half 6:40
Oregon State 76
Nevada 46 2nd Half 7:55
Pacific 49
Portland State 40 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Bakersfield 32 2nd Half 10:59
Utah State 37
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
UCLA 67
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
IUPUI 95
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Santa Clara 88 FINAL
Oregon 92
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51
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<
Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon

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