After winning the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season crown, the Miami Hurricanes will try to add to their trophy case, as they set their sights on the ACC Tournament title, starting on Friday with a quarterfinal matchup with the Boston College Eagles at the Greensboro Coliseum.
This year's Miami team is in rarified air after capturing the regular-season title with a big win in the finale over Clemson. With the win, Miami finished off the year a stellar 15-3 in league play, edging out Duke by one game in the final standings. Now Jim Larranaga's squad will attempt to change its fortunes in this event, where it is a mere 7-8 overall and still in search of its first tournament title.
Steve Donahue's Eagles closed out the regular season with three straight wins, just the second-longest win streak of the season for BC, which finished up the year at 7-11 mark in conference play. The team closed out the regular season with a narrow win over Georgia Tech, and definitely used that as fuel heading into the postseason, with Thursday's first-round rout of the same Yellow Jackets, 84-64, powered by a record-setting performance by the ACC's Freshman of the Year.
Boston College leads the all-time series, 24-17, but Miami has closed the gap with wins in six straight meetings, including both this season. The Hurricanes were fortunate enough to escape Chestnut Hill on Jan. 16 with a 60-59 win, but followed that up with a lopsided 72-50 victory in Coral Gables on Feb. 5.
The winner of the this game will take on either NC State or Virginia in semifinal action on Saturday.
A lack of scoring depth was a culprit of BC's inconsistency this season, as the team finished ninth in the league at 66.9 ppg. Despite the modest totals, the Eagles relied heavily on the scoring exploits of sophomore Ryan Anderson (15.1 ppg) and freshman phenom Olivier Hanlan (14.6 ppg) coming into the postseason.
Those offensive deficiencies were nowhere to be found in the first-round win over the Yellow Jackets, as BC blew by Tech, turning a five-point halftime lead into a 20-point blowout. Hanlan was on fire, draining eight 3-pointers en route to a freshman ACC Tournament record 41 points. Joe Rahon added 15 points and Ryan Anderson chipped in 11 for Boston College, which shot a sizzling 50.8 percent from the floor, powered by a 14-of-24 effort from behind the arc.
With stellar defensive play and plenty of gritty playmakers, Miami is built like a championship team. The Hurricanes finished third in the conference in scoring defense (59.9 ppg), field-goal percentage defense (.394) and scoring margin (+9.1). No player has meant more to Miami's run this year than sophomore Shane Larkin. The 5-foot-11 point guard leads the team in scoring (13.7 ppg), assists (4.4 apg) and steals (2.0 spg). Forward Kenny Kadji (13.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Durand Scott (12.9 ppg) are big time performers as well in the Miami lineup and give the team the kind of depth needed to make it to the tournament championship game. Scott was tabbed the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
In the conference-clinching win over Clemson last week, Miami got a huge game from Kadji, who posted game-highs with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Larkin added 11 points in the win, while Trey McKinney Jones finished with 10.